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India: Hughes swoops late on Chieftan.

Richard Hughes brought the odds-on Smart Chieftan with a late run to catch Ray Of Light and Alchemy to land the McDowell Indian Derby at Mahalakshmi, Mumbai, on Sunday.

Smart Chieftan, who won by three-quarters of a length and the same, was last of the 11 runners until the straight, where he made ground up the inside before pulling out approaching the furlong marker.

Some commentators thought that Hughes had overdone the waiting, but the jockey had a different version.

He said: "I was behind three horses at the two-furlong pole and, when I pulled him out, he hit a flat spot and changed his legs. It looked as if he might be only fourth, but I changed my stick and he flew."

Smart Chieftan, who was bred by India's biggest breeder, Cyrus Poonawalla, and carries the colours of the country's biggest owner, Dr M A M Ramaswamy, has won the first two Classics and could bid for the St Leger, at Mahalakshmi on March 26.

Before that, however, he has a date in Calcutta, for the Indian Invitationals on February 27, which will involve a two-day train journey from his base in Bangalore. There are three invitational events, over six furlongs, one mile and the richest over one and a half miles.

Smart Chieftan is a member of the small stable trained by Karan Singh, an ex-jockey who rode more than 1,000 winners.

Niall McCullagh, who finished third on Alchemy, rode the winners either side of the Derby, while Hughes was completing a double on Smart Chieftan. Hughes will be at Mahalakshmi again this Sunday for the Clash of the Titans, which will match Pat Eddery and other visiting riders with the best Indian jockeys.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Carter, Robert
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 10, 2000
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