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Posted on - 22 Feb 2019

By Milan Luthria
As the thirtieth running of the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million (Gr.1) approaches this Sunday at Mahalaxmi, my mind is filled with random memories of this prestigious “juvenile derby.” The first running had “Ashwamedha” belonging to D.A. Nanda and ridden by Malesh Narredu installed as the raging favourite, but was won by Ivor Fernandes trained “Le Gris Cheval” owned by “Mr. Stock”, a racing pseudonym for a top owner of the time, and ridden by Bajrang Singh.
The concept of this race was taken up after the advent of the Magic Million and the Cartier Million in Australia and Ireland. Since its inception in the year 1990, the race has been growing as the richest juvenile race in the country. It is the only Grade 1 race for juveniles run over a distance of 1400 meters. Initially, the race was guaranteed for Rs.1 million, but over the years it has crossed the Rs.5 million mark, and is now at nearly Rs.15 million.
A significant victory that comes to mind amongst many was that of filmmaker Feroz Khan’s filly Winning Pretty. His quote still echoes, when asked what was special about her. In his inimitable style, he replied, “Because she’s winning, and she’s pretty!”
The late jockey B. Prakash had a hat trick of wins between 2001 and 2003, and holds the record at 5 wins. Trainer S. Ganapathy has won the race 5 times, and the legendary Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy an incredible 7 times.
The Poonawalla family, which has won the race the last two years in a row with Ruffina and Corfe Castle, full sister and brother to each other, have once again spared no effort to ensure that the completion of 3 decades of the race will have it’s familiar brand of pomp, pageantry and prizes, which are very keenly sought after in a free contest of skill.
This year the frontline contenders for the race seem to be the Western India trio of Hunt for Gold, Free Gold and Trouvaille, and the Hyderabad challenger Marinetti.
An interesting battle on the sidelines is the one between champion jockeys A. Sandesh and P. Trevor, with the former passing the latter in the championship tally with a “chaubling” on Thursday.
Creating a significant new landmark race is rare in the 130 odd years of racing at Mahalaxmi, and as the Poonawallas celebrate this milestone this Sunday from 4 pm onwards, let us forget some of the troubles facing the game, and join them in doing what we love most – enjoying a great day at the races.
(The author is a Managing Committee Member/ Steward of RWITC, and a horse enthusiast.)
(Disclaimer : Views are entirely that of the correspondent only and RWITC takes no responsibility for the same)

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