An underdog tale,surviving a near-death experience,a trainer desperate to add the elusive Derby feather to his cap,and a jockey in search of greener pastures. Even before In the Spotlight broke from stall 2 at the Mahalaxmi Race Course at the Indian Derby on Sunday evening,the filly already had an interesting back-story going for her.
Only two years ago,she had come within seconds of losing her life after being diagnosed with a serious bout of colic. Having miraculously survived the scare then,the 2011-12 season had seen her achieve unprecedented heights. Trainer Sadakshara Padmanabhan,meanwhile,has earned rave renown in the circuit but the Indian Derby had always eluded him. Poor financial returns back home in England on the other hand had forced former Epsom Derby-winner Martin Dwyer to shift base to Bangalore from Liverpool.
The final stretch though hardly provided much drama. In the Spotlights competitors had given up long before Dwyer and his favourite filly rode to glory. Not often had the Indian Derby witnessed a run as one-sided as was the case on Sunday. In the Spotlight had finished the race off at the final bend,winning on a canter.
Padmanabhan not only got to saddle a Derby winner,his day was made doubly special with Field Marshall,ridden by David Allan,finishing third just behind the Vijay Mallya-owned filly,Smashing.
Pronto Pronto had won favour with a majority of the tipsters prior to the Derby,making the gelding the pre-race favourite. And the stage had been set for him by Pronto Star who had played the pace-setters role perfectly,getting the Derby off to a cracking pace. It was In the Spotlight who capitalised,however,capping off a memorable season with the most coveted prize for both man and horse in the country.