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In The Spotlight puts her connections over the moon
Review: By: True Blue
February 5 , 2012

Keeping her racing form intact and revealing her exceptional talent before a mammoth Mahalaxmi crowd, In The Spotlight put owner Capt. Jamshed Appoo, trainer S. Padmanabhan and jockey Martin Dwyer 'over the moon' with her sensational victory in the McDowell Signature Premier Indian Derby (Gr.1) on Sunday.

Despite her impressive record recently at Kolkata and earlier at Mysore and Hyderabad, In The Spotlight shared the favouritism with local hero Pronto Pronto and the Pune Derby winner Hills and Stars. But the chestnut filly bred at the Poonawalla Stud Farm and who is by Alnasr Alwasheek out of Radiate made her opponents look like novices.

Field Marshal was the first horse to hit the front but Pronto Star swiftly overtook him with Martin Dwyer deciding to settle In The Spotlight behind these two. Pronto Pronto and Hills and Stars graced the wrong end of the field as the front runners raced more or less in the same order till the last right-handed turn arrived. David Allan switched gears on Field Marshal to relieve Pronto Star of his lead.

In The Spotlight (Martin Dwyer up) winner of the McDowell Signature Indian Derby (Gr.1), being led in by Mr.Zavary S Poonawalla & Capt.Jamshed J Appoo

Not allowing Field Marshal to build any substantial lead, Dwyer brought In The Spotlight wide and showed her the daylight. In The Spotlight was the first horse to come into the view in the straight and the filly led all the way in the Mahalaxmi straight which has brought many a success story to a premature end previously. Her opponents who were off the bridle even before the race came to a boil struggled to catch her. Pronto Pronto made a move towards the inner rails but it was Smashing who really accelerated at that juncture. Eventually there was a yawning gap between In The Spotlight and Smashing when the former hit the wire. Martin Dwyer got to relish his success when he turned around in the last 100m only to see his rivals in no position to catch up with her. Field Marshal, who reportedly pulled up lame, ended in the money and was closely followed home by Pronto Pronto, Astapi, Picasso and Hills and Stars.

Capt. Jamshed Appoo didn’t forget Nana Raghunath, who was like a family to Padmanabhan and his wife Sharmila, in his moment of joy and dedicated the Derby success to the departed trainer’s memory.

In The Spotlight also created Derby history for her sex as she became the third filly to have won the Indian Derby in succession. Jacqueline and Moonlight Romance had won the event in the preceding years and this has happened for the first time in the history of this event since 1946. The filly has till date earned stakes worth Rs 3.88 crore, a feat which no Indian thoroughbred has ever achieved.

This was probably the most successful visit to India by Dwyer, who first arrived here to guide Running Flame to victory in the Castrol Indian 1000 Guineas in 1998. By guiding the fortunes of In The Spotlight during her Kolkata campaign, Dwyer silenced his detractors who were highly critical of his inability to steer Becket to victory and started doubting his calibre when beaten by Richard Hughes ridden Jacqueline two years back.

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