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story posted Sunday 2nd March 2008 15:13

Autonomy win puts Usha Stud in pole position

With the first quarter of the 2007/08 racing season in India completed, Autonomy's win over Red Romeo in the Poonawalla Breeders Multi Million has helped put Usha Stud in a commanding position in the juvenile category. Both horses were bred and sold at Ameeta Mehra's nursery in Gurgaon, along with the season's other leading juveniles, Set Alight and Kiara, as well as the year older Classic winners, Yana and Ruby Queen.

Such success has become synonymous with the farm since its inception in the 1970s by Ameeta's father, the late Major P K Mehra. The stud's Indian Classic tally today reads: 11 Indian Derby's; 11 Indian Oaks (six in succession); 10 Indian 1000 Guineas; Six Indian 2000 Guineas; Five Indian St Legers and Eight Indian Turf Invitation Cups.

The current stallion roster includes Razeen, Steinbeck and the Red Ransom horse, China Visit.

In addition, the stud boasts a formidable broodmare band of about 125 mares and it can safely be said that the farm raised more than half of them. Ameeta's judgment to lease out well-bred fillies at a slightly lesser price instead of an outright sale has paid rich dividends and most of the classic winning fillies end up retiring to the paddocks where they once started from. However, in recent times the stud has imported breeding stock from Keeneland and Goffs.

Of the few mares that were bought from the sales in America a couple worth mentioning are Burooq, an unraced daughter of Lanes End stallion A P Indy and from the family of Sheikh Hamdan's 1000 Guineas winner Harayir; Chanteline, a winner by Danehill who boasts Champion Three year old filly Shoot a Line as her granddam, and Tarnished Lady, a Stakes-winning daughter of the good broodmare sire Lord Avie, she also placed in the CCA Oaks.

The farm is set in three parts, all of them being close to the national capital New Delhi. With the breeding in one and yearlings at the second, it is the nursery that houses the weanlings (called International Stud) in autumn every year that is worth visiting. The property boasts quality facilities and the types one would associate with Newmarket or Kentucky. Well spaced and chain link-fenced paddocks, American style barns and a state of the art foaling and stallion unit. In time to come the breeding stock will be shifted to this site.

Having had the chance to spend time at Usha Stud, one soon realizes a key factor in the outfit's success over the past three decades being "attention to the smallest of detail", from the time a foal is born to the time they depart to the various tracks around India.



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