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Richest Ever Stakes For Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby. UB, USL & RWITC All Set to Stage Derby Weekend Carnival - By Mahendra Mallya

Posted on - 01 Feb 2016

Richest Ever Stakes For Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby. UB, USL & RWITC All Set to Stage Derby Weekend Carnival
By Mahendra Mallya
The Mahalaxmi racecourse will come alive yet again! The time has come to host a mammoth crowd as Mumbaikars and fellow citizens from across the country will drop everything else to be at the famed venue to watch what promises to be the most exciting event unmatched in presentation, fanfare and glory. Every seat in the house will be taken well on time and the ‘Must Attend’ rule will be taken seriously. The jostle for vantage viewing will probably be a lot tougher to endure in the packed Grand stands than the jostling for positions in the race of the year that the jockeys encounter the moment the gates fling open. The most prestigious and glamorous race of the land is a grueling test every owner, trainer, jockey and breeder will want to dare to take and strive the hardest to achieve success in this one event – The Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby (Gr1) partnered by Signature Packaged Drinking Water.

The aura of the Indian Derby is in a league of its own and Dr Vijay Mallya has been the one to take it to the levels of success and passion it garners.  The charm of the then McDowell Indian Derby that took off in the mid 80s has cast a spell on the people of India and has captivated one and all for decades! What’s even more amazing is the fact that Dr Vijay Mallya’s style of presentation has been most appealing to all generations, young and old, rich and not so rich, celebrities and commoners, professionals and spectators, within the racing fraternity and the first-timer. The biggest mystery is… where are all these people, who just-have -to-be- there-no-matter-what on the first Sunday of February at the races, before and after the Indian Derby?

The lead up to the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby partnered by Signature Packaged Drinking Water got underway with the press conference at a new venue in the RWITC premises. The classy lounge on the third deck of the Members’ stand was well equipped to hold a good number of media and other invitees for a briefing on the Mega event.
Master of Ceremonies, Mr Suhail Mohmmad, welcomed the members of the press and several guests and representatives of the sponsors in his own articulate style and invited Mr Samar Singh Shekhawat,   Sr Vice President, UB Group, Mr Zavaray Poonawalla, Chairman, RWITC, and Mr Vivek Jain, Chairman Working Group, RWITC to the head table to address the gathering.

Mr Poonawalla, who has been relentlessly working on ground and leading by example, opened up the proceedings with a heartfelt, sincere gratitude to the new joint sponsors Kingfisher and the United Spirits Ltd for their magnanimous contribution.

“I am thankful to the UB Group for their support and welcome their association with the Indian Derby. The Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby as it shall be now called is our prime event and it gives me great pleasure in welcoming our new sponsors – Kingfisher on board. I am optimistic about this new association growing with time and the RWITC will ensure that we reciprocate in a wholeheartedly to give them complete support in terms of mileage and brand positioning befitting a gigantic corporate sponsor of the stature of the UB Group,” said Mr Poonawalla.

Mr Samar Singh Shekhawat said that Kingfisher was delighted to partner the biggest and most sought after race of the land. “We pick and choose events we associate our brand Kingfisher Ultra and have always supported fashion and lifestyle events. Sports has been high on our list as our association with cricket in the IPL Tem Royal Challengers Bangalore, Formula One has been long standing. We have committed on paper to sponsor the Indian Derby now called the ‘Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby’ for two years, however, let me tell you that we have bigger plans and I can disclose that our partnership with the RWITC will be much longer than that. Horse racing and particular the Indian Derby has a unique aura and charm like no other and this is the kind of exclusivity brand Kingfisher Ultra sets about to project. I am very happy with the support and enthusiasm that the RWITC led by Mr Zavaray Poonawalla and Mr Vivek Jain have extended to us as sponsors and we expect the mega turn out to enjoy a weekend of festivities combined with excellent races that mark the glittering Derby weekend,” said Mr Shekhawat.

Mr Vivek Jain then announced with pride that the Stake money for this year’s edition of the Indian Derby was the highest ever in the history of Indian racing. “This total prize money on offer this year will be in the region of Rs Three and half Crores, the highest ever payout for a single sporting event in the country! While the maximum number of horses is limited to 22 runners, we are expecting a near full house. Some of the best thoroughbreds will line up for the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby. I express utmost gratitude to Dr Vijay Mallya for his continuous support and his association with the RWITC and the Indian Derby has been the longest sponsor partnership in the world and this is indeed heartening. The entertainment and glamour quotient that comes with the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby is of top quality. The RWITC is gearing up to host a massive crowd and to provide an interesting and exciting list of races and have lined up an array of entertainment, music, F & B to make it a memorable racing carnival for the masses,’ said Mr Jain.

“I have just closed on a deal with Skoda who has agreed to give away a high end Skoda car as the Grand Prize in the popular Contest of Skill open to every entrant. A car as prize has been a big hit with the masses and with Skoda coming in it is sure to pitch up the excitement. With races such as the Kunigal Breeders’ Produce Stakes (Gr.3), the quality of horses right through the two-day Derby weekend carnival will be top notch”.

Mr Jain also revealed that Radio One will be the media partners and the races will go live on Neo Sports and is expected to be covered by Bloomberg as well. He urged the media to ensure extensive coverage of India’s most loved and followed race and help build the right kind of hype that the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby partnered by Signature deserves.

The lead up to the Derby has begun with the press conference and several activities across the city will create greater awareness. There will be a spate of activities in popular Malls and a series of Pub crawls during which betting vouchers can be won by the public with their participation in the activities.

The ‘Breakfast with the Champions’ is the first serious Derby related activated when the Derby contenders will go about prep work. A tour of the restricted stable area will provide insight on various aspects such as shoeing a horse, their swimming regimen and a breathtaking sight of them galloping on the treadmill. This is scheduled for Thursday 4th February early in the morning in the Members’ lawn.

The Post Position Draw will be held the same evening followed by a Manoviraj Khosla fashion show and renowned Singer Kailash Kher will then hold centre stage churning out magical notes right through the evening.

A new trend is also being set. A fairly large sized statuette (about three feet in height) depicting a jockey will be on display at a prominent location at the racecourse. The figure will be hand painted by an artist with the colours of the winning owner’s silks and will remain all through the season until the next Indian Derby. The procedure will be repeated year after year. This is an excellent idea and the memory of the historic triumph shall remain kindled all year round.

The Mahalaxmi racecourse has staged many an epic battle. Be Safe is the reigning champion who won the last year’s Derby stunning his rivals and earning the adulation of thousands of people while clocking the fastest timing of 2:27:71 in the country. Quasar broke a million hearts when he turned the tables on the most loved equine hero in the Invitation Cup. Quasar had to earn his acceptance as the great Champion as despite beating Be Safe twice, Quasar still was the second favorite to Be Safe for the Bangalore St Leger. The mass sentiments were always with Be Safe until Quasar through sheer performance was acknowledged as the new champion on the turf.

This year’s budding stars should be amongst the sensational filly Myrtlewood, who has a dazzling turn of foot and reserves her fastest blaze over the final two furlongs. Desert God will be invading Mumbai and comes with a reputation as well, having recently conquered the Calcutta Derby in style. Costa Del Sol is just peaking at the right time and his last win was a record breaking one, until the mighty Quasar chipped off split seconds to create his own, but that was over 2000m. Phoenix Tiger will not let one reversal affect him. He will come back hard and his class was evident when he won the Indian 2000 Guineas. If there is a surprise waiting, then it is anybody’s guess and that should make for another interesting story created on the 7th of February 2016.

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