http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100208/j ... 079659.jsp
Jacqueline wins Shroff’s first Derby
Monday , February 8 , 2010
Mumbai: Jacqueline, the wonder filly, kept her date with the 2,400m McDowell Signature Indian Derby, on Sunday, but she won only after making a million hearts miss a beat in the final seven seconds of the 2 minutes 28.5 seconds she took to complete the historic journey.
In the last 250 metres of the race, the even-money favourite had allowed the Bangalore challenger, a two-length lead, prompting her jockey, Richard Hughes, to use the stick. Millions jumped with joy when Jacqueline responded gamely to Hughes’ hands and heels tricks that worked in the last 100 metres of the race. She won by a shade under a length from Becket, and in course record time.
Winning all the classics so far held in Mumbai, Jacqueline rewrote history. She is now the only filly to have achieved so. Her Majesty had failed to achieve this feat when Indian Derby was in its infancy. Expectations were very high from the Sohna stud bred filly.
The stud farm had nothing to lose as Becket, too, was their breed but trainer Pesi Shroff was under tremendous pressure, having to run as many as five in the Derby field of 12 runners. Pesi’s another exceptionally talented horse, Set Alight, had lost to a rank outsider, Antonios, in last year’s Derby and the trainer was not taking any chance this time.
Pesi finally won his first Indian Derby, leaving his fellow professional S. Padmanabhan, who trained Becket, to rue the loss in this edition of the classic, having won almost everything in the country’s circuit. Months of hard work and sacrifice, including the use of the Calcutta Derby winner, Bruckner, as a pacemaker, paid off. The attitude may have broken hearts of Bruckner’s followers but yielded the desired results. After all, only one horse was going to win this Derby and not all of his five.
Barring the high-drama in the closing stages of the race, the running of the Derby was fair and square with no hard-luck story reported from any quarters. Aston Martin exhibited his speed as Bruckner followed the leader with Mighty Crusader and Classerville in close attendance. However, those who mattered in the Derby line up were right behind the front-running group, and not really far detached as is the normal practice in such races.
Classerville threatened to upset all plans of the fancied runners at about the halfway mark, but jockey Martin Dwyer, atop Becket, was quick to react, improving and shooting into the lead as the field turned for home. At that point of the journey, Jacqueline was still in fifth, leaving Hughes to steer and weave her way through the weakening leaders but with caution, in view of Becket wobbling a bit up-front. The intelligence of the champion was at work, and he decided to switch his course from out to the rails, giving a few cracks to the filly. At that juncture, a million hearts missed a beat.