She Came, She Saw and She Cantered! By Mahendra Mallya
Posted on - 04 Oct 2012
Multi-Classic winner In The Spotlight (Alnasr Alwasheek – Radiate) was to take on three hopefuls to officially claim the McDowell Signature Premier Indian St Leger (Gr1), the last leg of the Indian Classics. Bling missed the chance to gallop alongside the wonder filly as she sustained a fall seconds before the race, at the gates and had to be withdrawn.
Even though the race, from a practical point of view, was a mere formality, In The Spotlight behaved like an empathetic guest and did not rush to make a killing. She settled down behind Swift Memories and was happy to play second fiddle for the major part of the race. Astapi stayed behind getting the best view of In The Spotlight in action and would have watched and learned as well. Once the final turn was negotiated, In The Spotlight showcased her brilliance and without going full throttle, amassed a lead of seven-and-half lengths to earn another three million in 2:57:73 taking her career earnings past the Rs Five Crore mark. This timing which she clocked (probably only on her third gear), was slightly short of Macchupicchu's 2:57:30 last year!
Trainer Padmanabhan can take all the credit for nursing the champion, Jockeys David Allan, Martin Dwyer and the others who have partnered her may have hogged the limelight on the day, however, owner Capt Jamshed Appoo's foresight, hope or desire while naming her 'In The Spotlight,' gives this Fairy-tale performance a perfect title!
Racing Fraternity Heaps Praise upon In The Spotlight, the richest ever Indian Thoroughbred!
Vivek Jain, Chairman, RWITC: Every sport needs a star, and a real champion is the perfect promotion to draw viewers. A Federer in tennis or a Tendulkar in cricket are huge draws. Having broken every record in racing, In The Spotlight is our equine heroine, and will attract attention whenever she races on our Turf.
Zavaray Poonawalla: In my opinion, In The Spotlight is one of the greatest thoroughbreds in the country if not the greatest. Her greatness is attributed to her ability to come from any position and leave the field cold in a matter of split-seconds.
In view of my experience with Mystical's exceptionally successful International campaign, it gives me a firm feeling that In The Spotlight would easily pick up a Group II if not a Group I race at any major centre in the world.
K N Dhunjibhoy: She is an outstanding filly highly rated and on the turf she is brilliant. She is absolutely versatile and a genuine distance runner. I think her optimum distance would be a mile and half. I am not sure she should race abroad as Indian horses have to do some catching up with international competition. If they decide to take her overseas, I sincerely hope she does well there.
R Surender Reddy, Chairman HRC: I would say IN THE SPOTLIGHT, a champion Indian bred filly, winner of multiple Grade I races can be called the Indian FRANKEL.
Dr. K M Srinivasa Gowda, Former Chairman, BTC: Undoubtedly a great filly. Trainer Padmanabhan deserves credit for looking after her well and keeping her in top condition, ensuring that she was at her peak at the right time. She officially took the title of the best four-year-old when she won both the Indian Derby and the Turf Invitation Cup. In my mind, there are no two opinions on her racing overseas. Who else would you take to race abroad if not In The Spotlight?
Farouq Rattonsey: In The Spotlight is exceptional. She is so exciting to watch. She is the best I have seen in a long time. She is versatile and blessed with loads of talent. She possesses all the gears and what is striking is her ability to switch gears at will. She is truly top class. I feel she can do well in group races at international centers as well.
Cyrus Madan, Former Chairman, RCTC:She is an exception filly and double boned. You can see she loves racing and thrives on it. She is one of the best I have seen. When she came to Kolkata nobody thought much of her until she took on our local star Dandified. He had won the Calcutta Gold Cup beating a top class set and for a three year old this was commendable. In The Spotlight demolished him in the Derby and that was a class act. Her Indian Derby victory too was a supreme one making her a filly of extraordinary talents.
R R Byramji: She is simply superb. In The Spotlight is one of the rare fillies I have seen. The best quality in her is her ability to build and grow stronger with each run. Her forte is the distance, she is best over the longer trips. She reminds me of Elusive Pimpernel. As a juvenile he was underweight and fragile and that prompted me to complain to the breeder Mr Sunny Brar as to what he was selling to my owners. Brar replied "Arre Yaar, (Oh friend) you be patient with him yaar, just look after him well and then we will talk."
Elusive Pimpernel also got better and better with each run. I see similar traits in this filly. I remember admiring her each morning. Paddy and I usually sit together and watch horses exercise. I used to compliment him whenever I saw In The Spotlight work. All said and done, Paddy has done extremely well in keeping her going. It is not easy to maintain form particularly for a filly. I would give Paddy 100 marks for the effort he has put in and getting the filly to her peak each time. And yes, she should go abroad, she has an excellent chance in doing well there too.
Pesi Shroff: In The Spotlight is a Champion filly and a delight to watch. Her feats on the turf are incredible. I feel she will do well overseas as well and if she ever races abroad, I will be rooting for her strongly.
Narendra Lagad: She is certainly one of the best fillies I have seen. Every generation has its own champ and in the current generation, In The Spotlight takes that crown and is the undisputed champion filly. Her temperament and her ability to travel are special traits and I would love to see her going abroad to showcase her talents. She will be the ideal representative to keep our colours flying.
Rehanullah Khan: In The Spotlight is the best of the generation by a fair margin. It would not be fair to compare her to past legends but yes, she is an exceptional talent. Her ability to run with the pace over longer distances is something admirable and extraordinary. Travelling as much as she has and dishing out such outstanding performances, yes she is brilliant!
Aslam Kader: In The Spotlight is a super filly. To maintain her form all through the year and to take the rigors of so much travel across the country is certainly a huge task. That she has won despite such hectic schedules is amazing. Since you are compelling me to compare, which is not fair, I would still be inclined to think it would take a lot more to beat Elusive Pimpernel. He was a champion in his own right. However, I must add that Padmanabhan has taken excellent care of her and nurtured her astutely. It is not easy to travel horses the way In The Spotlight has and credit must go to Padmanabhan and the filly for their tremendous achievements.
B Shivaprasad, Handicapper BTC: In The Spotlight is perhaps the best filly I have seen. She was a case of late blooming. She caught my attention when she won her maiden race over 1600 meters. That was a sudden surprise. However, she was a revelation in Kolkata. She grew from strength to strength and it was in Kolkata that her stocks really soared up. I would rate her around 105 – 110 internationally. In my opinion 2400 meters would be the distance she would best relish and she does have a realistic chance of winning a Group III race at any major racing centre overseas.