The pulse of life is what stimulates the competitive intents of mankind and the vibrant soul of The Indian Derby is what creates the annual excitement in millions of people throughout India.
The depth of history, magic and anticipation on which India's greatest horseracing event has been built, is the core of its continued existence and unequalled attraction.
Scores have sought the glory of victory in this great event but few have achieved the ultimate honour hoping for a place in Indian racing history and to be absorbed into the soul of the sub-continents greatest racing spectacle.
The Indian Derby is run "on the Flat" by 4 year old thoroughbred horses. It is one of the most prestigious horse races In the country. It is the mother of all events and is the second leg of the Indian Triple Crown, preceded by the Indian 2000 Guineas and followed by The Indian St. Leger.
In England, 1779, Sir Charles Bumbury and the Earl of Derby XlIth flipped a coin for the privilege of having a new race named after them. The Earl won the toss so the race was called "The Derby" but it was Bumbury's horse, 'DIOMED" that wan the first ever Derby” in 1780. The Earl first won the race named after him in 1787, with a horse called ‘SIR PETER TEAZLE’.
The first running of "The Indian Derby" was run on Saturday, 30th January 1943 which was won by 'PRINCESS BEAUTIFUL' owned by HH The Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda, trained by M. C. Patel, and ridden by Jockey E. Britt. The net stakes were Rs.35,000/-. Interestingly, 'PRINCESS BEAUTIFUL' won the Indian 1000 Guineas and Indian 2000 Guineas that year ridden by E.Britt on all three occasions.
The Derby Is always contested on the first Sunday of February by 4 year olds at level weights, with fillies claiming a 1.5 kg sex allowance. Geldings were not permitted to race till 1965. Interestingly, when Geldings were permitted to race In 1973, the first two homes in the Derby were ‘MANSOOR’ and 'BADE MIYA', both Geldings.
R. R. Byramji twice trained the winner of The Indian Derby in three consecutive years. He first did it with 'COMMANCHE', 'SQUANDERER' and 'MANITOU' in 1976, 1977 and 1978. He followed up with 'ASTRONOMIC', 'LITTLEOVER'and'ELUSIVE PIMPERNEL' later.
P. Shroff rode the winners 'EXHIURATION’, 'DESERT WARRIOR' and 'STARFIRE GIRL' - of The Indian Derby for three consecutive years. He achieved this feat in 1989,1990 and 1991. Kheem Singh was the first Indian Jockey to ride the winner 'BALAM' at toe Indian Derby In 1949.
Interestingly The Indian Derby is the only race that ‘PYARE MIYA’ won in his entire career. He is also the only maiden to have won this race. He achieved this feat In 1975.
There are three instances of the first three in an Indian Derby being all fillies. In the year 1984/85, we had ‘REVELATION’. 'EMINENCE' and 'PRUDENTIAL CHAMP', In the year 1998/99, 'SUPERVITE'. 'RUNNING FLAME, and 'PRICELESS ASSET' (after disqualification of 'SADDLE UP'), and 2004 we had 'PSYCHIC FLAME’. 'ESTONIA' and 'SPRUNGLI'.
‘HER MAJESTY’ won four Indian classics and placed second in The Indian Derby in the year 1947. Her record is unsurpassed. She is also the only horse to have started as the favourite in all the five Indian Classics.
The longest winning margin in the Indian Derby is held by ‘MANITOU’ in the year 1978, he won by a margin of 10 lengths, and the closest finish was head, head and head when 'TRACK LIGHTNING' won in the year 1981. 'TOPMOST' was the first winner of The Indian Derby run in the year 1974 at Mumbai, whose previous start was not at Mahalakshmi.
The first running of ‘The McDowell Indian Derby’ was in 1985, which was won by 'REVELATION', owned by Mrs. Zeenia S. Lawyer, Mrs. Bakhtawar B. Chenoy, Maj. P. K. Mehra, and the Estate of the late N. M. Irani, trained by Bezan Chenoy, end ridden by P. Shroff.
The McDowell Indian Derby is now India's richest horse race. From next year, the winner will collect a minimum of Rs.1 crore in prize money.
Results of THE INDIAN DERBY since 1943 >> Click Here