Well Connected triumphs

Well Connected triumphs

TENSE CLIMAX: Jockey David Allan pilots Well Connected to a thrilling win over Impavid (back) in the Kingfisher Ulta Derby Bangalore at the Bangalore Turf Club on Sunday. dh photo/ BH SHIVAKUMAR

The rain gods tried to dampen the spirit of a packed crowd at the Bangalore Turf Club. But the incessant drizzle notwithstanding, the big race, worth Rs 2.6 crore, was set to go as scheduled. And at the end of little over two and a half minutes, Well Connected soaked in the mild shower, relieved and proud in equal measure. 

Not many saw this kind of a finish coming. Impavid, guided by A Sandesh, was running away with the contest with a controlled run. Not in the mix for the major portion of the race, it appeared like Well Connected, piloted by David Allan, would crumble under pressure. But the three-year-old filly showed why it’s rated so highly by the pundits with a brilliant last-gasp push to win the 2000-metre Kingfisher Ultra Derby Bangalore by a long neck. Knight Templar, ridden by S Zervan, finished behind Impavid to be third.  

Despite the open nature of the race, Well Connected had the edge thanks to its highly reputed team. Trained by S Padmanabhan, an undoubted giant of Indian racing and piloted by Allan, the man of big occasions, fans didn’t need any bigger reasons to put their money on the unbeaten horse. 

In a nail-biting competition, Allan’s perseverance made the difference. From an awful position, the Scottish jockey egged the horse on in the final furlong that sent the crowd into raptures. A huge cricket fan, Padmanabhan compared the derby to the World Cup summit clash last Sunday. “I was in England last Sunday for the World Cup final. This derby was as thrilling as that cricket match. Even in the last 20 metres, there was no clear winner,” said an elated Padmanabhan. 

Padmanabhan felt the intervention of rain put Well Connected in a spot of bother. But the veteran trainer heaped praised on Allan for pulling off a splendid recovery. “From the final 900 metres, Allan was asking the filly to speed up. But she wasn’t getting the traction from the ground. And once she actually started picking up, I thought it was too late. But Allan’s superb finish gave us the trophy,” he explained. 

Allan, however, looked on the brighter side when quizzed about the weather. “Interestingly, the rain worked in my favour. Last time when she (Well Connected) won here, it rained and it was the same ground. Obviously, she handles it well. The conditions might not have worked in favour of Impavid,” he offered.

Impavid, one of the two favourites, was off the blocks in fine fashion. With only Knight Templar in proximity, the Arjun Mangalorkar-trained colt was unchallenged till the final 200 metres. Only then did Well Connected, lying fifth all along, began to make giant strides. “We didn’t leave it too late,” said Allan. “To be honest that’s how we planned. The ground was sticky so it took a while before we accelerated. But we knew she digs in well and stays well,” he said.

The BTC witnessed a 14,000 plus total footfall. The turnover of Rs six crore, was a drastic dip, compared to the club’s usual earning of Rs 12-14 crore, indicating the harsh impact of GST.