Saturday, May 17, 2008

her majesty

The Indian classics have always seen an extraordinary champion every few years. Champion horses like Exhilaration, Smart Chieftain, Indictment, Storm Again, Mystical et al have left a rich legacy. Though Mystical was not destined to win the Indian Derby, he won three Indian classics in splendid fashion and then went on to become one of the greatest thoroughbreds of Indian racing history by winning back to back races at Dubai last year. But the achievement of Her Majesty in the year 1946-47 surpasses all other performances in the Indian classics simply because she is the winner of four Indian classics and second in the coveted Indian Derby. What is more, she carried the weight of public expectations in all the five Indian classics. Of course, only a filly can win four or five Indian classics simply because colts and geldings cannot run in two classics which are gender specific.

The fact that Her Majesty could carry her form in exemplary fashion from a mile to the grueling 2800 metres speaks greatly not only about her versatility but her gutsy qualities as well. In recent times, Running Flame matched her performance while Sweeping Success, with two Indian classics and two photo-finish losses in the Derby and the Leger was another who ranks alongside these champions. Sweeping Success is also the winner of Gr 1 Deccan Derby and Gr 1 Indian Turf Invitation Cup.

The daughter of Steinbeck, Running Flame won the Indian 1000 Guineas, the Indian Oaks and then ran second to Supervite in the Derby and then got the better of one of all time greats Saddle Up in the Indian St Leger only to be relegated to second position in a controversial objection. Running Flame also won the Indian Turf Invitation Cup. She won several graded races after her feat at Mumbai and then raced unsuccessfully at USA. She has had a few foals abroad.

Bestowed the affectionate appellation ``Apdi Ghodi’’, Her Majesty was an imposing performer. The only loss in the Indian classics came in the Indian Derby when she went down to Bucephalus whom she had beaten comprehensively twice before and twice after. The glorious uncertainties of the sport have prevented many a champion from winning the coveted Indian Derby. Her Majesty lost to Bucephalus in the all important Indian Derby as fate willed against her victory. Ironically, it was her own pace-maker, a colt by named Equity who broke down during the race, almost brought Her Majesty to ground. Despite the injuries she suffered in the accident and the ground that she lost, Her Majesty put up a brave fight against Bucephalus for a while in the straight before going down.

Her Majesty (bf 1943 by Barra Sahib* out of Laughing Water* by Walter Gay) established three track records at Mumbai and the legion of her fans considered the guaranteed one rupee return she gave for a place dividend on the Tote as the safest of investments. Bred by her owner Mr A C Ardeshir in partnership with the Yeravad Stud, she was trained by W Buckly and piloted by Billy Evans to all her twelve wins. Incidentally, the A C Ardeshir Cup is held as a graded race in memory of the man who owned Her Majesty. The Ardeshir Cup has indeed seen many a stalwart making his or her mark through this race.

Tragically, Her Majesty died at sea en route to England as a result of swollen sub-maxillary glands and the intense heat in the Gulf of Aden and as such, she did not leave any legacy at the stud.

malvados progeny

One of the most influential sires in recent times has been Malvado. The Poonawalla Stud Farm owned Malvado played a significant role in lifting the profile of Indian blood stock. He not only sired champions but he was also a great broodmare sire. Mystical, one of all time greats of Indian racing who won back to back races at Dubai during the Racing Carnival was out of his daughter Mystic Memory.

Interestingly, India’s quest for glory outside the shores of the country began successfully with Malvado’s son Astonish who was the first Indian horse to be exported in the beginning of 90s after Balam made an unsuccessful foray in the 50’s. The Indian Triple Crown winner went on to stun everyone by writing a new chapter in the history of Indian racing by winning on debut at Hong Kong and then backing it up with another success. The victory of Astonish was what gave impetus for Indian breeders to successfully race their produce abroad in subsequent years. The performance of Saddle Up at Singapore and Malaysia and that of Adler at America capped by the brilliance of Mystical at Dubai were all built on the foundations laid by the champion sire.

Malvado (b 1972 by Nearctic out of Victory Chant by Victoria Park) sired 304 winners from 19 crops Given the comparatively low level of stakes when he commenced stud duties in 1978, the gross earnings in India of Rs 13,07,29,303 stand out, being the fourth highest till last three years. With 127 black-type earning progeny, of whom 55 were black-type winners, he was the Champion Sire five times.

Bred in Canada by Mr E P Taylor, Malvado raced 24 times in France. He won six races and placed 14 times including 2nd in the Gr 3 Prix de Guiche, Gr 3 Prix de la Coupe etc. His dam Victory Chant was the dam of 12 winners of whom seven earned black-type and each of her six fillies was a noteworthy broodmare in their own right.

The list of his best progeny is legion and it includes Astonish, Indian Triple Crown winner, unbeaten champion Exhilaration, Mystic Memory, Ministrella, Scintillating, Desert Warrior, Miss X’Olence, Oakmead, Solitaire, Veuvius, Vibrant and several others.

A feature of Malvado as a sire was the fact that he got the best athletes from mares who were from a wide cross section of families and who were also daughters of a wide cross section of sires. The dams of his 127 black type performers were the progeny of 73 different sires and came from 66 different families on their distaff side.

A sire of nine sires, Malvado also had 155 of his 172 fillies enrolled in the ranks of the Indian broodmare. A pillar of the Poonawalla Group of Farms, he was Maternal Grandsire of 99 black-type performers including Starfire Girl, Academic, Arsenal, Splendid Girl, etc. He was also the Champion Maternal Grandsire five times with gross earrings of Rs 18,58,71,291 at the end of year 2005.

If the Darley Arabian male line is so prominent in the modern thoroughbred, it is in no small measure due to the contribution of Nearco and his illustrious sons including Nearctic, the sire of Malavado. Malvado died at the age of 27 years in 1999 but his legacy lives on.