Hyderabad, India – Candy Girl, ridden by jockey Md. Ekram Alam, galloped to victory in the coveted Qutab Shahi Million race, the main event at Saturday’s races held on January 20th, 2024.
Owned by M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar Of Chettinad Charitable Trust, the champion filly was saddled to perfection by trainer K. Satheesh to edge out defending champion Siddharth in a thrilling finish.
News In Short
|Qutab Shahi Million
|Saturday, January 20th, 2024
|Md. Ekram Alam
|M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar Of Chettinad Charitable Trust
|1 minute 38.61 seconds
|Margin of Victory
|Over ₹1 crore
|– Prestigious annual race in Hyderabad – Competitive field of top thoroughbreds – Candy Girl scored upset victory with strong late charge – Thrilling four-way finish
Hyderabad, India – The Qutab Shahi Million is the most prestigious horse race held annually in Hyderabad, boasting a purse of over ₹1 crore. As the flagship event of the racing calendar, it draws the country’s top thoroughbreds and jockeys.
This year’s edition saw a competitive field featuring race favorites like Siddharth and Priceless Gold. But it was the relatively unheralded Candy Girl who stole the show with a well-timed late charge along the rail.
“My strategy was to conserve her energy early and make a strong push in the stretch,” said a jubilant Ekram Alam after posting the biggest win of his career. “Candy Girl responded beautifully and her acceleration in the final furlong was just terrific.”
Candy Girl covered the mile-long race in 1 minute 38.61 seconds, edging past heavily backed Siddharth by a short head in a pulsating finish. Seasoned campaigner Huntingdon finished third ahead of Priceless Gold.
Race fans and pundits alike were stunned by Candy Girl’s meteoric rise, having won just twice previously in lesser company. But trainer Satheesh had relentlessly worked for months to prepare his ward for the big occasion.
“She’s improved tremendously since her last run a month ago,” he noted. “Her fitness levels and race sharpness were peaking perfectly for a major test and she proved her mettle today.”
Indeed, Candy Girl withstood intense pressure in the closing stages to prevail in a four-way blanket finish – a testament to her courage and gameness.
Her unlikely victory was a heartening result for owner M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar as well. The industrialist’s charitable trust maintains an elite racing and breeding operation but had narrowly lost this event previously with hot favorites.
Today’s success marked a reversal of fortunes, with their unheralded runner blossoming into a equine star under Satheesh’s patient handling. It also continued Chettiar’s late father’s legacy of fielding competitive contenders.
For jockey Ekram Alam, the first classic win of his career opened up new possibilities as well even as he tempered expectations. “I just want to keep working hard and getting better,” he said. “But this victory in India’s biggest race meeting is very encouraging.”
The Qutab Shahi Million was the pinnacle race of an eventful Saturday card boasting 6 contests featuring some of the country’s best racehorses.
Prior action saw The Thunder capture the Indian Navy Rolling Challenge Trophy in thrilling style while Strauss took top honors in the prestigious Gajasimha Rao Memorial Cup.
Alexa prevailed in another key event, the Indian Navy Rolling Challenge Trophy II, defeating a quality field. Local favorite Divine Destiny then held off Lady Danger to win the concluding Common Land Plate.
Elevated prize purses and prestige mark the Hyderabad racing season as an important milestone on the national calendar. Apart from crowning new champions, it offers a high-profile stage for the sport itself.
“Races like the Qutab Shahi Million greatly increase public interest and showcase Indian horse racing in a great light,” said turf club chairman R. Surender Reddy.
“Our aim is to make this festival a marquee social and sporting attraction befitting Hyderabad’s heritage and stature. Today’s world-class event is a very positive step.”
Certainly, Candy Girl’s plucky success will only add to the lore and legend surrounding Indian racing’s most coveted prize. It marked a fairytale launch for an unlikely heroine on a day filled with suspense and thrill.
Candy Girl’s dramatic triumph in the Qutab Shahi Million marked a fairytale launch for an unheralded equine heroine. Her stirring stretch-running win over favorites Siddharth and Priceless Gold added rich drama to Indian racing’s premier race. Rookie jockey Alam and trainer Satheesh added glory to their budding careers.