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Colombiana Clinches Historic Race - By Taus Rizvi | DNA

Posted on - 26 Dec 2016

-By Taus Rizvi
Malesh Narredu-trained horse pips favourite to win 64th edition of Maharaja Sir Hari Singhji Grade 2 Trophy
Mumbai: The atmosphere at the Mahalaxmi Race Course was soaked in history. And for good reason as well. The royal family of the late Maharaja Hari Singh, a passionate horse and race lover, was reliving the past of their forefather.
Singh's grandson MK Ajatshatru and his family graced the 64th edition of the Maharaja Sir Hari Singhji Trophy (Grade 2) on Christmas at the iconic venue here on Sunday. It wasn't the favourite Alandair that won the race, though. Colombiana, rode by A Sandesh and trained by Malesh Narredu, surprised one and all to edge past the former by a whisker and win the historic trophy. The winning horse covered the 1600-metre distance in one minute, 36 seconds and 251 milliseconds followed by Alaindair (1:36:265) and Myrtlewood (1:36:431) in a thrilling finish.
 “I have won this race for second time. Jockey Sandesh rode a peach of a race,” Narredu told DNA after the race. “It is a very prestigious race and I always look forward to it. Colombiana has been in good form in recent times but I did not think he had a good chance here as favourite Alaindair had done nothing wrong and was the clear favourite. However, the only thing I changed was that I put blinkers on the horse which I never did before,” he added.
It was an emotional moment for Hari Singh's grandson Ajatshatru, the presenter of the race. “Raja Hari Singhji was passionate about his races and horses. He had a stud farm in Nagbani (Jammu) and after partition, he decided to shift to Mumbai and Pune. That is when he started taking interest in racing. The best horses and races were run by him and he had the best horses and farm in Asia,” Ajatshatru said.
“Unfortunately after he passed away, no one took on racing or stud farm in the family. I found out through history about this day at the race club and I decided that we must relive his dreams and aspirations. He was not only a great maharaja but he had also signed the great instrument of accession with India. Today, Jammu & Kashmir is there because of Maharaja Hari Singh sahab. It's a tribute to him,” he added. Ajatshatru was glad that the race was upgraded to Grade 2 from 3. “It's 64th year running and this is the second-longest running racing. It was a smaller race earlier but now the stakes are bigger and more people come for the race. We have a very enthusiastic racing fraternity which was interested in getting Maharaja Hari Singh sahab's name up,” said Ajatshatru, who is also a member of Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Council. Vivek Jain, chairman of Royal Western India Club's managing committee, said Maharaja Hari Singh was passionate racer.
“Maharaja was a very prominent owner and breeder. The race is being run since the mid-1950s and is one of our biggest races. It is good that the family has shown interest and contributed money by being a part sponsor of the Rs 1.5 million prize money,” he said.

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