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Nanoli Pune Derby (Gr 1) : Rich, Competitive and Entertaining - By Mahendra Mallya

Posted on - 13 Oct 2012

The Derby is the biggest and is considered the most challenging race of the home center. The festive aura and the pulsating suspense are incomparable to any other race. A Derby victory is a lifetime landmark for an Owner and is the just reward for all the investment and involvement it takes in owning a thoroughbred. This is the one race all owners dream of leading-in their horses with pride. There is simply no bigger high for an owner than walking the aisle alongside his horse draped in the winner’s sash. For a jockey and the trainer, a Derby victory is a sure way of raising their career stock. A Derby success in their portfolio not only enhances reputation, but also catapults them into the Hall of Fame, thus implying the great significance of the Derby.  

The Nanoli Pune Derby sees a set of future stars aspiring to make their first big impact on the Classic scene and this race, needless to say, has always been fascinating. The rich prize money and the festive atmosphere blending with the celebration of the Oktoberfest, makes the Nanoli Pune Derby weekend one of the finest in racing. The Nanoli Pune Derby (Gr 1) has been the property of the Nanoli Stud Farm since the mid 90s and for Mr KN Dhunjibhoy the owner of the farm, this race has been the closest to his heart. “We started off with the sponsorship of the Pune Derby in 1996 and over the years the Pune Derby has become an endearing venture. I have had quite a few personal successes, hence this race has provided me with several memorable moments in all aspects – as a Sponsor, owner and breeder,” says Mr KN Dhunjibhoy.
"The Derby weekend has always been the most colourful and this year is no different. The Nanoli Stud Farm and the IGCC in association with the RWITC will bring together a weekend of racing carnival and entertainment along with some great racing action on the turf. The attendance is expected to be high to witness the best of racing action is awaiting to keep everyone captivated", said Mr Vivek Jain.
This year, a field of ten runners will line up for the prestigious race. None among them stands out as a towering favourite and this only adds to the suspense and thrill of uncertainty. The colts and geldings tower over the two fillies in the fray.  Razeena, trained by Nina Lalvani, is perhaps the only one who can be ruled out with a degree of certainty. She is the only one who comes into this race without a single victory in six outings and has no logical credentials to garner any support. Here is a brief on the recent performances of the contenders. Hallle the other filly from Sunderji's yard has one victory to show and is a rank outsider.
Amazing Desire will also be considered a rank outsider. He has won only recently over a sprint and in all likely hood may set the pace for the race. He is sharp and in good nick too as he showed in his last start victory, the only one he has registered from half a dozen outings. Trained by M Narredu, Amazing Desire would do well to find a slot in the judge’s frame.
An Acquired Taste does come with a catchy name. This chestnut gelding has arrived from Bangalore with a streak of three good runs, two of which he won with appreciable margins. He was a tad unlucky on his debut as he left too much to do in the homestretch and ended half a length short of a memorable debut victory. He made up considerably in his subsequent two outings and is now in Pune to take a crack of the center’s biggest race.  He had a feel of the course winning a mock race without exhaustion and is in the pink of condition to give his rivals a run for their money. This is Altamash Ahmed’s first representative in the Pune Derby and he would be thrilled to see a successful end to his first attempt.
Angel Crown has back to back victories to show and the one over the Pune Derby Distance of a mile and quarter, was exceptionally good. He took on the highly rated favourite Grand Design and beat him with ease.  This output certainly raises his stocks particularly as he beat a set of four year olds, being of three himself. The timing he clocked though wasn’t really a cracker, but his manner of victory showed beyond doubt that he has the speed and the stamina to last out the distance.
Commander, from Bezan Chenoy’s stables picked up a race this season and backed with subsequently with another gritty perforvmance in the SA Poonawalla Multi Million. He ran a good second to Neona, who is dubbed the 1000 Guineas hope. Commander has shown quality and good staying ability and can turn his fortunes around with a big performance on the day.
Okavango has compiled an inspiring hat-trick this season and obviously loves the Pune track. He needed just one run to polish his skills and then produced the three-in-a-row. His victories have all come over the mile and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the extra two furlongs amidst the toughest set he has ever encountered.
Shivalik Hero looks the prime favourite for the race. He started off his career well after a tame debut and has won in Pune and Mumbai in the respective last seasons of the centers. He started his Bangalore campaign on a winning note but kind of lost his way there subsequently. He disappointed in the Colts Championship ending way down the field, well beaten by Machiavellianism. He put that dismal performance behind him by notching up an impressive victory over 9 furlongs back in Pune. His manner of victory too is ample proof that he is at his best and will take some beating.
Supreme Minstrel pulled off an impressive victory after a longish interval. He won the September Handicap with aplomb. He made a solid dash in the homestretch to pile up a huge 6 ½ length victory over 1600 meters. He has never gone beyond this distance but showed enough prowesses that he could easily do well over an extended trip. While he may not be the top most contender, but he certainly is not one to be taken lightly either. 
Tintinnabulation was one of the Bangalore Derby hopefuls who perhaps did not like the wet going there. He however, has maintained his winning form as is evident from his back to back victories in Hyderabad, his home center. He has traveled well and has arrived in Pune looking good and fresh. He is one of the prime contenders and is the candidate to enliven the finish. Although he has gone over the 2000 meter distance, his victories have come only over the nine-furlong trip tops. His style of running appears to be at an advantage on the Pune track and Tintinnabulation is right among the main contenders for the Nanoli Pune Derby.
The IGCC sponsored Oktoberfest brought in a grand festival night with German cusine and beer flowing freely on the members’ lawn at the Pune racecourse. A live German band – Die Vagabunden kept a huge audience swaying to some lilting scores. Reveling guests converted any available space into a dance floor and the celebrations never looked like ending.
A Grand Prize for those present at the Pune racecourse on D day will be an added attraction. The Volkswagen POLO car as prize by way of a contest of skill never fails to attract a healthy number of participants. The Pune racecourse is all geared up to host another massive crowd to witness a new star of the turf in the making.

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