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Big win in Chotu's career - By Shailendra Awasthi | TOI

Posted on - 05 Feb 2018

Big win in Chotu’s career
By Shailendra Awasthi | TOI
Mumbai: Jockey Chotu Singh Jodha pinched himself to make sure he was not dreaming when returning victorious astride Rochester. He received a thundering applause from a massive crowd after winning the greatest race of Indian Turf, the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby at the Mahalaxmi racecourse on Sunday. “I could not believe it was happening to me and that I had really ridden a Derby winner,” the 29-year-old told TOI.
In the nine years that Jodha has been riding, he has never won a classic. “My horse (Rochester) was improving gradually since the last Pune season and he was getting better by the day,” said the man from Rajasthan who had partnered Sheraz Sunderji’s trainee in five of his nine career runs. Under him, the Manjri Stud bred Rochester had won three times and finished second twice.
Jodha claims that he has developed a fine rapport with the colt. “He clearly understands my nudging, many a times I don’t have to use the whip. Even today when I asked him to accelerate, he flew past front runner Lady In Lace,” informed Jodha.
Third time lucky for trainer
Trainer Sheraz Sunderji had twice come close to landing an Indian Derby victory. His trainee Desert Warrior had won the Pune Derby in 1990 when Sunderji decided to take a sabbatical due to personal reasons. Desert Warrior went on to win the Indian Derby under the care of Altaf Hussain next year. Later, in 2011, his trainee Ocean And Beyond had finished a close second to Moonlight Romance.
The 57-year-old trainer, however, found Lady Luck smiling on him on Sunday when his ward Rochester won as an underdog. “I always knew he had it in him and am happy he ran true to his potential today,” said Sunderji.
Owners’ delight
Akhtar Adamji Peerbhoy had started owning horses since 2011 but never had a horse with calibre to be in contention for the big events. “It’s unbelievable,” said Peerbhoy.
Rochester ran in his colour though Peerbhoy owns it with hosts of other co-owners which also include construction tycoon Shapoorji Pallonji. Shapoorjis filly Lady In Lace was one of the three fancied horses expected to win on Sunday. Shapoorji, however, had a great day with a one-two result after Lady In Lace finished second. The Icing on the cake for him was that the winner was bred at his Manjri Stud Farm. “It’s a dream come true,” Shapoorji said.
Satisfying day for RWITC
RWITC chairman Khushroo Dhunjiboy was a happy man at the end of the day. “Yes, it is a great day for us. We are happy that a crowd of nearly 20,000 had an entertaining day. Everybody was enjoying — good music, great food and fantastic racing action on track. It is extremely satisfying that we managed to provide a total package that they will cherish for long,” observed Dhunjibhoy. “The combined jackpot pool touched a magical figure of Rs 1.44cr,” he added.

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