Thursday, October 10, 2002

Achates, Kiss And Tell & Idar.

ACHATES after winning the Colts'
Handicap Stakes.
Achates was one of the first horses selected by me. I studied the 1990 auction catalog and came across this horse by the new stallion Tecorno out of Smooching. Smooching I saw was from the Pretty Polly family and her dam Close Relation was a sister to Great Nephew. In 1990 you couldn't get better than this. The first evening when we went to the roll, I dragged my parents(as at the time, they used to do the buying!) straight to the Pratap Stud ring, owned by my now dearest friend Maharaja of Idar. I clearly remember his lot number was 555. We pulled him out and there came this small little fellow with his head held low. A bay colt, very plain looking with no markings except a white right hind pastern. He was a very correct individual but very plain and very very small. Our trainer Magansingh Jodha checked him out and approved it, but didn't seem very keen. We didn't finalize it and went looking elsewhere.

My mind was set on him. Although he was small, he was a correct individual with a flawless pedigree. We walked around for 2 or 3 evenings in that sale and Magan suggested some other horses too but then finally said that if I was so keen on that little Tecorno colt, we should go in for him. He agreed that he was exceptionally bred and very correct conformationally. He said most horses from
Pratap Stud were small so it was of no consequence. When we approached Idar, he quoted a rather high price and refused to budge from it. Some common friends advised him to sell but he just wouldn't come down. But then, that's Idar for you.

Around the same time, a Tecorno 3 year old named Ashwamedha was making waves. He won his maiden by a street and his second win was very impressive too. He was now aimed for the then biggest baby race, the Breeders' Produce Stakes. Idar argued that he would keep all his horses till after Ashwamedha wins the big race and that, that would fetch him big money for all his Tecornos. On the 4th or 5th day, we went back to him as I was hell bent on getting him. We went to him, increased our offer, and also told him that if Ashwamedha won the big race, we would throw in something extra. He didn't agree to that, but finally did agree to a price and shook hands. The following week, Ashwamedha won the Breeders' Produce Stakes in scintillating style. Here was the start to the Pratap Stud-Tecorno era, the rise of the Pratap Stud, and a friendship that I truly treasure today.
The horse was named Achates after a Greek warrior in the Trojan War and also means "faithful friend". Mid way during the following Pune season Magan called up and informed us that Achates had improved tremendously. Back to the following Bombay season, he didn't race in the early part. However, he was ready to run just after the last day of the Auction Sales in February. He made his debut on 8th February 1991 in the 5 furlong Hindu Trophy. Magan said that he was not yet ready to win but would run a good race. So he went in without any expectations. In the race, he jumped out slow and lost about 4-5 lengths at the start. For a baby who is running for the first time, it is very difficult to make up lost ground. We all thought it was all over for him. Then suddenly, past the 800 marker, I saw him passing the others as if they were standing. Into the straight, he had not only caught up with the field, he was mid bunch. That second, I realized he was a decent horse. He had caught up with the field and so it was a decent run. But Achates didn't stop there. He continued his flight into the straight and went past every one in the field and won the race. The whole racecourse was talking about him, there were calls from all over that evening telling us what a good horse he was. He went on to win the Colts' Handicap Stakes in Pune, again unfancied to win in a strong set of runners. Subesequently, he didn't do that well with us. We sold him the following year and with his new owners, he won his first 2, and 2 more for them the following season. In all he won 11 races and more than Rs.7,00,000=00 in stakes.
The Kiss and Tell Story
The same year when we sold Achates, I bought his half sister by Lingot d'Or from Idar. I met Idar in August at a party in Pune and inquired about the filly and learned that she was not sold at the Auctions in February. I offered him terms, which no one had ever heard of, but which I had worked out and rehearsed to strike a deal when the time was right. So I told him I would give him one foal from the filly when I bred with her and also 50% of all the stakes that she earned. The following day, I called him and after a brief discussion agreed on the terms and bought the filly. She was named Kiss and Tell. A filly bred like this is hard to come by. Kiss and Tell showed early promise as a 2 year old in her morning workouts. She was put into all the big baby races and placed in all of them, earning black type in the Bahrain Trophy finishing behind Romantic Harmony and finishing 2nd to Mariana in the Royal Honk Kong Jockey Club Trophy. She also ran 3rd to Cape Dance that season. In Pune she suffered a slight set back and raced only once. The following Bombay season, her debut run over 7 furlongs suggested that she doesn't stay, so the Indian 1000 Guineas was ruled out. However, she didn't do too well that year till February, so we flew her to Calcutta during the Invitation weekend. The flight was arranged by a dear friend Mr. Mahesh Thakkar. She ran a 6 furlong race on the Invitation weekend and was the only Bombay contender, other than Elusive Pimpernel to win on the Invitation weekend. She stayed back as planned in Calcutta with Vijay Singh. Vijay Singh is the son of jockey Jagdish who won most of our classic races for us back in the 60's. in Calcutta, she won us almost Rs.7,00,000=00 is stakes, 6 races, 4 in a row, got invited for the Sprinters' Cup. When I retired her to stud, I bought over that foal which I was to give Idar. She is now the dam of winners Egelvsky and Amatol.

Gautam Lala