300 classics in 30
years could well be the new catchline for Usha Stud Farm. The Stud Farm recently touched the
milestone of 300 classics when Artesia won the Calcutta Oaks late last month. Usha Stud Farm is the youngest stud farm to achieve this
feat. The Poonawalla Stud Farm is the other stud farm
in India with this distinction though got over a longer period. The rest of the
stud farms in India are not in the range.
The Usha Stud Farm which started its operations literally in
the back yard of Major P K Mehra`s house in the late
70s has grown from strength. Success came chasing the stud farm thanks to right
selection of stallions and broodmares. The stud farm made an immediate impact
on Indian racing with its first stallion Grey Gaston producing 5 Indian Derby
winners. The arrival of Razeen saw a sea change in
thefortunes of the stud farm. The stud farm became the leading nursery in the
country and has not relinquished that spot. The new freshman stallion of Usha Stud Farm Multidimensional (Danehill x Sacred Song) has already made waves with its first crop winning several
classics including Gr 1 Bangalore Derby, Gr 1 Colts Championship, Gr 1
Fillies Championship, and the recent 1, 2 in the Calcutta and Bangalore Oaks,
apart from a host of other notable wins in important races.
has been a sensation and his success could have been much more but for a few
bad luck stories here and there. Amelia was unlucky to have had her jockey
unseated at a crucial stage of the Indian 1000 Guineas. I am sure that in the
years to come, Usha Stud Farm will prove that Indian
bred horses will always maintain their supremacy over the foreign breds. My goal is to ensure this,'' said Ameeta Mehra, Managing Director
and owner of the famed nursery in India in a chat withthis writer after being
congratulated about the historic milestone that the stud farm achieved. The
Stud Farm deserves all the success that it has enjoyed because of a refreshing
approach to breeding which incorporates the modern as well as traditional
"The got-abroads may have done well in the last two years but this
was principally owing to the fact that the top stallions of India, Razeen and Placerville were on the decline. There was a
vacuum as the new stallions had to take their place. While we have been lucky
to have found Multidimensional, Poonawallas were not
as lucky with Ace. But I am sure it is only a matter of time that horses bred
in India will regain their ascendancy," said Ameeta giving reasons for the success of got abroads in the
classics last year and sudden craze for these type of horses.
said that unfortunately some of the breeders have become just traders, buying
pregnant mares and selling its produce and not bothering about serious
breeding. This may succeed as a temporary measure but the disastrous results
are already there for all to see. ''We have imported over 450 pregnant mares in
the last three years but not all of them have done well. There are a vast
number of such horses which have proved total failures. Last year the number of
pregnant mares brought to India came down significantly and it is sure to taper
off. Buying horses for the sake of buying with trading as the sole purpose is
not going to help in the long run. We need to buy good quality bloodstock which
will boost our operations. Breeding is creating genetic prepotency and lineage,
it is similar to producing top quality whiskey and wines which takes years to
mature. We breed horses with the aim of producing champions in successive
generations. Creating lineages, developing families of classic winners and
black type performers is the thrill of breeding,'' emphasized Ameeta.
Pointing out the
fact that breeders took a severe hit last year, Ameeta said: '''The majority of breeders suffered big losses
last year due to over production. Fortunately there has been culling of mares
and production has reduced and there is an attempt at rationalization. It may
take a couple of years to get the desired result,''' she added.
success mantra for breeders, Ameeta said: '''The market for got abroads will
come down sooner than later. Buyers have become wise. There is information
available on the net about every broodmare; price at which it has been bought
and as such, the mere tag of being a got-abroad is
not going to fetch prices. This route is not going to prove lucrative for
breeders in the long run. Only those who breed professionally will succeed.
Those who have been in the business of breeding are making concerted efforts to
buy good stallions and broodmares which provide substance. This is where the
future of breeding in India lies.
"Breeding is an expensive affair but I am sure all of us who are passionate about our work, will continue to uphold the highest standards and traditions to ensure quality and classic speed. I believe the breeders should self restrict and put a cap on the number of horses that they are going to produce each year. We have to take into account the number of fresh horses that the existing race courses can accommodate each year," Ameeta said.
Coming back to the stallions that the stud farm has had, Ameeta said that Razeen put Usha Stud Farm on the road to glory. ''Razeen has been an outstanding sire of classic winners besides being the best broodmare sire that the country has seen. I am sure Multidimensional will prove as good given the excellent start he has had in the stud.''
Ameeta regretted that racing has not expanded in the way it should have. ''Unfortunately the tradition of racing hasn`t picked up in centres other than those that had been racing traditionally. The government has not been helpful. Horse racing does not come under sports, industry or under agriculture. There has to be a change in the mindset in the government for the sport to grow. Also there has to be a far greater effort on the part of the administrators of the sport to make the sport popular and free it from a one-dimensional view. The many facets of racing have to be publicized for the sport to expand. In my opinion the Chairman of the Turf authorities of India and all other bodies and clubs should have regular meetings and come up with a united action plan to promote horse-racing in India aggressively and consciously."
Ameetahowever held out hope of a bright future for racing. ''I see a ray of light in Punjab where the government has given land for setting up for a new race course. There is a collaboration to set up the facility. There will be night racing, casinos and several other exciting features. If Punjab racing takes off, I am sure it will be a trend setter for more such initiatives to come. Racing needs to re-invent itself to reach larger audiences, and Punjab could well give the necessary thrust. Should the Punjab experiment succeed, we are one step closer to reenergizing this noble sport," said Ameeta exuding optimism about the future of horse racing in India.
By Sharan Kumar