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Sir Cecil favourite for Indian Derby - By Prakash Gosavi | Mid Day

Posted on - 31 Jan 2019

Sir Cecil favourite for Indian Derby
- By Prakash Gosavi  | Mid Day
Sir Cecil. Remember that name. It's going to be talked about and tossed about in every discussion anyone is going to have about the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby (Gr 1) to be run at the Mahalaxmi racetrack this Sunday (Feb 3).
Sir Cecil is a four-year-old grey, by Win Legend out of Elusive Trust, who will start as an overwhelming favourite for the 77th version of the Indian Derby. Sir Cecil is bred and owned by Tegbir Singh Brar of Dashmesh stud, trained by S Padmanabhan and will be ridden by David Allan in Sunday's big race. The same owner-trainer-jockey combination has won the same race two years ago (2017) with Hall Of Famer. Will they be able to repeat the feat with Sir Cecil? That question will be answered on Sunday in a matter of two-and-a-half minutes after the starter flags off Sir Cecil and his 13 rivals at 5.30 pm on Sunday.
The horse has won all its eight races so far, the first five at his home center Bangalore, then two at the neighbouring Mysore, and then traveled all the way to Mumbai to win the grade 1, Villoo Poonawalla Indian 2000 Guineas, takings his winnings close to Rs 3-crore mark.
Surprisingly, in that last race, for the first time, Sir Cecil sported bandages on the front legs, hinting that all was not really perfect with him. More eyebrows were raised when, instead of camping in Mumbai after the 2000 Guineas win and preparing for the Indian Derby, the connections decided to take him back to Bangalore.
Under a cloud
Later it was revealed that the unbeaten champion, who was already being talked about as one of the greatest horses to have graced the Indian turf, was suffering from some ligament issue so trainer Padmanabhan (who last week led in his 100th Classic winner) chose to groom him at Bangalore where he could give undivided attention to Sir Cecil.
Taking their chances
Though Padmanabhan has now made clear that the ligament issue has been sorted out, and Sir Cecil is back to optimum fitness, his rival professionals are within their right to believe that the Indian Derby is one race that is not over until it's over. They have jumped into the Derby fray with their best four-year-olds, and needless to say, will be keeping their fingers crossed.
Prominent in the line up are the Rajesh Narredu-trained Star Superior (who has run close to Sir Cecil on a couple of occasions albeit over a mile trip) and the James E McKeown-trained Adjudicate (a very impressive winner of the Kolkata Derby). Pesi Shorff has also entered three of his runners--Sacred Roman, Valegro and Vintage--though they will need a huge jump in form to match strides with Sir Cecil. Bushtops, trained by M K Jadhav, has taken a massive jump in my own Dynamic Class ratings, so I would regard him as a joker in the pack.
Special BOX
Grey to the front
Sir Cecil loves to hit the front, set his own pace, and draw away from rivals--that's been his running style during almost all of his eight wins. The Derby trip of mile-and-a-half, especially on the Mahalaxmi racetrack with a 550-meter long homestretch--is not exactly suitable for that kind of running style, though I have seen a couple of horses, like Chaitanya Chakram and Noble Eagle--pull it off.
Interestingly, Chaitanya Chakram (1985) has a lot of similarities with Sir Cecil. Like Sir Cecil, Chaitanya Chakram was also grey, was not locally based (Cecil comes from Bangalore, Chakram came from Hyderabad), and like Cecil, Chakram had also won all his races start to finish.

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