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We outlasted our rivals, says jockey Hughes - By Shailendra Awasthi | TNN

Posted on - 19 Dec 2011

We outlasted our rivals, says jockey Hughes
Shailendra Awasthi | TNN 

Mumbai: Irish jockey Richard Hughes’ romance with the Mahalaxmi Racecourse continued on Sunday when he landed his eighth Classic victory in four seasons, guiding Pronto Pronto to a thrilling win in the Indian 2000 Guineas. 

    The victory on Sunday was sweeter than ever as he actually had no ride in the race and came to know about riding an unknown horse to him less than 24-hours before the race when the original rider, Y S Srinath, hurt his hand and was ruled out. 
 
    “When I was told on Saturday evening that I would be riding this horse, I immediately asked for Pronto Pronto’s video tapes and studied them,” informed 38-year-old. 
 
    How did he prepare himself to ride an unknown horse in such a big race? “I know the Mahalaxmi track well and that is more important to know than knowing an unknown horse,” said Dublin born. “Jockey Srinath also told me how to handle him. He spoke to me in a jockey’s language which I know well,” said Hughes with a big grin. 
 
    What was going on in his mind when he was lying far back entering the home stretch? “I was never far behind my main challengers Picasso and Cardinal and Srinath had told me that this horse loves overtaking from behind. I just had to guide him from the shortest route since I don’t like coming from outside in Mumbai.” 
 
    Hughes also said that going the Derby distance of 2400 metres should not be a problem for Pronto Pronto. “My horse did not win with a dash, in fact he outlasted both Picasso and Cardinal,” added Hughes. 
 
    Trainer Imtiaz Sait was thrilled to win his first Indian Classic in over five years. His last Indian Classic win was with filly Warsaw Pact who had won the Indian St Leger during the 2004-05 season. “People had doubts if Pronto Pronto could come back well after a long layoff but I knew he would,” said the 58-year-old for whom it was his 18th Indian Classic win. 
 
    Owner Shapoor Mistry gave full credit to his staff at Manjri stud and trainer Sait. “Hats of to Sait for keeping my horse in top condition during his five-month sabbatical.”

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