Horse talks, and it pays to listen. Especially if what the horse talks comes to you directly from the trainer’s mouth
Winning horse La Rondine’s trainer Vishal Gaekwad (left) and jockey Leigh Roche yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Horse talks, and it pays to listen. Especially if what the horse talks comes to you directly from the trainer’s mouth.
On Sunday afternoon yours truly bumped into trainer Vishal Gaekwad at the entrance of the racecourse, and wished him good luck for the Spartan Poker Indian 1000 Guineas (Gr 1), the first Classic of the Mumbai season, in which Gaekwad’s filly, La Rondine owned by the Dhunjibhoys, was running as an underdog against Isn’t She Special, the Padmanabhan-trained overwhelming favourite.
“I am very confident I will win this race,” Vishal said to me, strangely, without any excitement in his voice. On asked why he felt so strongly about La Rondine’s prospects, he said smilingly, “Sometimes the horse connects with you, tells you something in no uncertain terms. She (La Rondine) has given me that feel during the preparation. Watch her, she will win today.”
Two and a half hours later, the script of the first Classic of the season unfolded exactly as Vishal had predicted. Going to the post as a 6-to-1 shot, La Rondine, ridden by Irish jockey with the same initials (Leigh Roche), in only the second start of her career, notched up a glorious Classic victory, and how.
Settled on the rails in sixth position as Anatevka and Merlot fought to control the pace of the mile race, La Rondine bided her time until the heads turned for home, and Arabia (Akshay Kumar up), racing two lengths ahead of her, made her move to grab the lead. Leigh Roche wasted no time in going after her even as David Allan astride the favourite put Isn’t She Special into top gear. It just took about 15 gigantic strides between the 300 & 200-meter marker for La Rondine to overpower Arabia and frustrate Isn’t She Special–in the final furlong, she imperiously sailed away to win by 2-1/4 lengths from Arabia in a smart time of one minute 36.65 seconds for the mile trip.