Being a horse lover since forever, I finally got myself a stallion date – The Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby 2019. But it’s not only a race, it’s a different world altogether of people the world talks about, where people make range of fashion statements while carrying confidence on their sleeves and try their luck in ways to score the jackpot while sitting at the stands, the list seems to be endless…
“I have been coming to derby ever since I can remember talking or walking, so it’s a part of my family and it’s a glorious day because the Mumbai Derby is the Indian Derby. Derby is one of the best races you can watch – it has best four year olds running in the country and the crowd it attracts is also tremendous,” claims Delna Poonawalla, fashion designer by profession and daughter of Zavaray Poonawalla.
Be the odd one
So, the derby is one race and everyone knows it as ‘The Derby’ but there are many other races and classics like the 1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas, Oaks – which is the version of the fillies, fillies are the girl horses and this classic is called Ladies’ Day anywhere in the world and here.
“That is also a beautiful day to come and not just the derby. And then my family started almost 30 years ago, so my grandfather started the horse breeding, later my dad, uncle and everyone in the family joined him and became passionate about it. And in these 30 years, not one person who knows about derby has won, so everyone should come and take part,” says Delna.
Tradition becomes fashion
“For me, the horses are the magnificent animals; they deserve the best lady or the audience watching him because they put in efforts with all their hearts when they run for you. Hence, it goes hand-in-hand,” says Delna. Some 200 years ago when racing started in England in the presence of the queen, one had to keep the crown of their head covered. So, it became a tradition to wear hats, and as everything goes, tradition becomes fashion and fashion becomes a must to have.
“And that’s how it took over and stayed on. We follow England so they brought the racing here. Also, I saw my mother, my grandmother and everyone else getting dressed up to come to the races and it was fascinating for a five-year-old to witness that while growing up, adds Delna”.
In fact, the Bombay racecourse is the copy of the Melbourne racetrack and in Melbourne the racing is so popular and loved like how Cricket is loved and appreciated in India. They have a national holiday and there is a train that goes right into the racecourse for people to come from all over.
For all ages
“We have little festivals where we bring in singers, fashion, colours and much more fun stuff,” shares Delna. The biggest thing is that the government opening it out to all ages so the family can come on Sunday with their kids and it becomes just not about gambling, but fashion, love for the horses, seeing the races, lots of food stores and more. There are also syndicates, earlier only four people could own a horse but now syndicates encourage 10-20 people who can own a horse.
So who couldn’t afford a horse before, can have one now. “And that way, one gets involved – they can come see the tracker, how the horse performs, what is he doing and it becomes more interesting and fascinating for youngsters too,” concludes Delna.