Bangalore Derby: War Hammer stays true to form

War Hammer stays true to form

Jockey Suraj Narredu powers War Hammer to victory at the Shree Meenakshi Sundereshwara Bangalore Derby (Grade I) at the Bangalore Turf Club in Bengaluru on Sunday. DH PHOTOS/ PUSHKAR V

War Hammer was in an unstoppable mood coming into this year's Bangalore Winter Derby. The four-year-old colt was in pursuit of his seventh consecutive win. His jockey, Suraj Narredu, had welcomed the year by becoming only the second Indian to register 2000 wins. On a bright Sunday evening, the indomitable combination conquered the marquee event in style. 

Competing with the favourite tag in his toughest challenge, War Hammer emerged champion of the Shree Meenakshi Sundereshwara Bangalore Derby (Grade I) here at the Bangalore Turf Club. Triumphing in 2:28.86, War Hammer missed the all-time record set by Temerity (2:28.85) for a 2400 metres race by a whisker. 

SS Attaollahi-trained Anjeze, astride David Egan, put up a great fight to finish second (2:29.51). Here And Now, ridden by A Imran Khan, produced a remarkable recovery to come third in 2:29.76.   

The winning team was richer by Rs 1,41,37,500. "It's been a great few days and winning the derby at home is an icing on the cake. He is easily the best horse in Bengaluru and hopefully we clinch the Indian Derby next week if we decide to go there," Suraj, who was flanked by his family, told DH. 

In what was a fast-paced contest, Speedster, who took the lead, was pressed by Roman Senator and Mighty Red. The trio stayed in front after the half-way mark even as War Hammer remained steady at the seventh spot. 

Anjeze pressed the accelerator in the final furlong to go in front only to see War Hammer, guided with great control by Suraj, whiz past him from the outside in the final 100 metres. War Hammer turned his calculated pace into great speed to win by four lengths.

"I preferred to sit at the back of the field. I saved him for a while and when I left him, he gave a brilliant turn of foot," described Suraj. Trainer Prasanna Kumar, who clinched his maiden Derby, was elated. "Many doubted his (War Hammer) stamina. He proved the critics wrong," he said. 

Nazerul Alam and Suraj were the most successful jockeys, winning two races each. The total footfall was around 12000 and BTC had a total turnover of Rs 4.22 crore.

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