Thursday, July 10, 2008

great indian stallions grey gaston

That brings us to the last of the seven stallions which changed the face of the Indian racing industry in the eighties and nineties. His name was Grey Gaston and he was imported to this country by the late Major P.K. Mehra at a time when there was a dearth of new blood. It would be fair to say that Grey Gaston triggered of the renaissance of the ‘stud industry’.

His personal credentials were nothing to write home about, having won only two races in England. But before he passed away in 1984, he left behind a legacy that blazed the Indian turf like none before or after him. He is a sire of winners of over 200 races!, Most of the big names that he produced were trained by either Rashid Byramji or Bezan Chenoy. Both these men always got the utmost from their wards.

The colt which brought Grey Gaston to the forefront was none other than the invincible Manitou. They say that all good things come in threes and for owners Ranjit Bhat and Yogesh Shah, Manitou was the third of their Indian Derby winners (after Squanderer and Commanche). He won the Indian Derby in the hands of the indomitable saddle artist Vasant Shinde. A horse called Ipi Tombi always played bridesmaid to the great Manitou. The duo were however pegged back by a runner called Linden Flora in a strategically run three-horse race.

Track lightning, owned by the Khataus, was another highly successful Grey Gaston colt. He did not rest on his laurels after bagging the coveted double – The Indian Derby and the Invitation Cup. He won a total of 15 races. It was an era when the Khataus were ruling the roost (their Everynsky having shown the way) and Rashid Byramji was the man, much in demand. Revelation followed Track Lightning’s foot-steps when she too bagged the two plums of the Indian racing calendar.

Capricorn would have emulated his kin, had he not come up against the likes of that unforgettable front-runner named Chaitanya Chakram.

Camino and Camineto, out of the mare Celandine, were two more remarkable progenies of this famed sire. There were others who kept the ‘Gaston’ name flying high. Some of these, like Tick Tock and Track Flame were brilliant sprinters while others such as Nelston, Carnival and Kir Royale picked up classics galore.
Not surprisingly, Grey Gaston was the champion sire in ’82-’83 and ’84-’85 — his final crop. What a finale! Doff your hat to this giant of a sire!

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