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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.

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