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How To Be The Hot Favourite On Derby Day

How To Be The Hot Favourite On Derby Day

Be a Derby pro. Even if it's for a day. 

Looking the part on Derby Day at the Mahalaxmi race course goes beyond looking like you might have just walked off the cover of the latest edition of Vogue or GQ. And like all potential Miss & Mr. India's, that dreaded moment will arrive when you will just have to sound intelligent even if it is only for a few minutes.

Of course all is not lost, and a few simple tips can help you conduct a reasonable conversation through this short but very trying period of your life.

Is there more to the Derby than just fashion? Image source: media.indiatimes.inIs there more to the Derby than just fashion? Image source:

First, just like every man at the race course in a well fitted suit is not a gentleman, every race is not a Derby. Only one of the races on Derby Day is the Derby. If you are still scratching your head, its the 6th race at 5:30pm in the evening. The other races have their own individual names, just like you have yours and all the other 30000 people at the races have theirs.

Yes, you can 'eat a horse'! Image source: dnaIndia.comYes, you can 'eat a horse'! Image source:

Second, while it is indeed a fact that India is largely a country of vegetarians, don't start hollering for Maneka Gandhi every time you hear someone has eaten a horse. To 'eat a horse' is not an act of cannibalism, but merely means that someone has bet on a horse to lose instead of betting on it to win.

Hopeful crowds cheering from the stands! Image source: flickr.comHopeful crowds cheering from the stands! Image source:

Third, "langda" does not mean lame. If someone asks you to have a bet on the "langda", he is asking you to place a bet on horse number 7. You may ask why horse number 7  in every race is called a "langda". The answer is that it is not because the number 7 resembles a walking stick.

The ‘langda’ or horse no 7. Image source: dnaIndia.comThe ‘langda’ or horse no 7. Image source:

Four, if a racing regular asks you to bang a horse, please don't drop your pants. You are only being advised to have a good bet on a horse. It's imperative you ensure that your conversation never sounds like this:

Racing regular : Bang that Lady in Lace as much as you want. 

You: What? Ok, I don't mind but what if she's shy?

Lady in Lace (and this is the biggest tip you're ever going to get) is the name of one of the horses with a chance to win the Derby this year.

“Bang a horse” or have a good bet! Image source:“Bang a horse” or have a good bet! Image source:

Five, you are bound to hear the term "Handicapper". No, no one is going around breaking an arm here and a leg there, but is an official who allots different weights for horses to carry in a race giving all horses have an equal chance to win. So, if you see an elderly gentleman on a wheelchair, please don't assume it's the handicappers handiwork, its Gods.

An ecstatic crowd cheering at the Indian Derby. Image source: dnaIndia.comAn ecstatic crowd cheering at the Indian Derby. Image source:

Six, don't try and sound all posh and call a waiter a steward. A steward at the race course is the person who ensures clean and fair racing. So if you see a pretty woman and insist on placing your F&B order with the steward, your visit to the race course might be rudely cut short.

You (loudly): Steward!
Steward: Yes
You: Could you get a cola in a tall glass, with four cubes of ice for this lovely lady?
Steward: Watchman, throw this chap out.
Pretty Woman: I need a vodka now. 

A ‘race for maidens’. Image source: rediff.comA ‘race for maidens’. Image source:

Seven, if you hear of a race for maidens, do not expect to see a herd of women running instead of a herd of horses. A maidens race is a race for horses which have not won a race so far.

Eight, 1-6 means, race number 1 - horse number 6. Similarly 3-3 means race number 3 - horse number 3. So if you want to score like a pro this is the way to go:

Pretty Woman: What horse are you playing
You: 6-9
Pretty Woman: What's that?
You: Sixty-nine.
Pretty Woman: Sixty-nine? There is no horse with that name
You: Let me teach you how to play sixty nine.

How to be a ‘winner’ at the Derby! Image source: flickr.comHow to be a ‘winner’ at the Derby! Image source:

Nine, The Ladies Ring is not a life time commitment to suffering. It's the bookmakers stall in the members enclosure. Its called the Ladies Ring as there is less rush there compared to the main bookies ring, making it easier for the ladies to bet. 

Ten, when you hear the term outsider, don't imagine its you. Even though you are. An outsider is a horse with a lesser chance of winning a race compared to the favourite, who, as the name suggests, has a greater chance of winning.

So, if you want to be the hot favourite on Derby Day and not the outsider, concentrate, scroll up and read this article again. Slowly.



Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of

By Shiven Surendranath
Cover photo credit: Shiven Surendranath