"Where is my Visa?" In The Spotlight Asks her Trainer Padmanabhan!
Posted on - 28 Sep 2012
Trainer S Padmanabhan in whose yard In The Spotlight has her home, is dead serious when it comes to bringing out the best from his trainees. His watchful eyes are constantly roving around his equine students. His knowledge and experience in producing champions leapt to a different high when he spotted In The Spotlight and nurtured her to a Classic conquering streak. He knew he had a potential champion in his yard and duly applied the old theory – ‘If you wanna make them win, you gotta make ‘em run!’ He risked travelling with her to every major racing center and a la Alexander – the Great, saddled his filly to bring home the richest race of the region. His tally of over 100 Classic Trophies is indeed impressive, and his quest for the McDowell Signature Premier Indian St Leger, the last of the Indian Classic for the current racing calendar, sees him arrive with his queen warrior – In The Spotlight. A brief tete’-e-tete’ with Mahendra Mallya, catches him in a rare lighter mood, amidst the pressures of high quality racing.
You have earned a reputation of being a ‘Classic’ Specialist. How different is it to target and train for such group races.
S Padmanabhan: It is entirely a different ball-game. You have to be meticulous and precise about everything including getting the horse to be 100% fit on a particular day.
Would you say that In The Spotlight is the best you have trained in your career so far?
S Padmanabhan: She is the best filly I have trained till date and without doubt she is one of the top horses in India.
Tell us about In The Spotlight’s ‘kinder-garden’ report card.
S Padmanabhan: She appealed to me when I first set eyes on her as a foal at Poonawalla Stud. I told Capt Appoo to retain her. But I must confess that she did not show out as a special 2-year old. She started showing a lot of ability as a 3-year old during Bangalore Summer Season. She is one of the special horses as she only won either Graded Races or Classics.
How does she behave in the stable?
S Padmanabhan: She has very strong likes and dislikes, but loves racing and coming to work. Once she is on the track she is aggressive and competitive. Inside the stable she is like a child.
Is there any amusing story about In The Spotlight that you would share with us?
S Padmanabhan: Every week she asks me whether her visa is ready to go abroad. Ha Ha.
You are considered one of the best trainers particularly known to travel your horses extremely well? When and how did you master this skill?
S Padmanabhan: My first outstation winner was in Mumbai in the month of March 1984, one year after I got my license. From then on I have been travelling horses where there have been big races. We have good staff and travelling head-lads and now we have our own horse-float which was designed by us to make travelling more comfortable for the horses. Practically speaking, when they travel in our float they travel in first class comfort.
About the Indian St Leger in Pune, is there a sense of complacency and do you also see her victory as many do – a foregone conclusion?
S Padmanabhan: I take every Graded Race very seriously and nothing is foregone till you go past the winning post.
Do you feel any pressure when there are such soaring expectations hovering around you time to time?
S Padmanabhan: Of course we feel the pressure when we have so much faith imposed on us by the racing patrons and the owners of these wonderful horses who have patronized our stable all these years.
Would you compare any other thoroughbred in India with In The Spotlight?
S Padmanabhan: I think In The Spotlight is in a class of her own. It will take a lot to find a filly who could be so versatile and who could maintain form and conquer everything on the way.
What are your future plans for ITS? Where does she go from here?
S Padmanabhan: We hope to go to Royal Ascot next June. Ha Ha.