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Pandu Khade

Pandu Khade was an Indian ace jockey. He won many prestigious races in the past when India was under British rule. Khade was born in a small village called Vadgaon in Kolhapur District, Maharashtra State.

Pandu Khade was based at the premier Royal Western India Turf Club that comprised India's top racing circuit, the Mahalaxmi Race Course in Bombay, and the Poona Race Course near Empress Garden. He is considered to be one of the greatest jockeys that ever rode in India. He rode many classic winners in the Indian 1000 Guineas, Indian 2000 Guineas, Indian Derby, Indian Oaks and India Saint Leger. He was an apprentice and had some of his biggest successes with the champion trainer of that time, Maj. K. P. Jadhav.

Khade had keen judgement of pace and an extraordinary ability to optimally position his horses for victory; almost every time they came thundering around the bend and into the home stretch. This skill of his was second to none, and was acknowledged by champion English and Irish riders of that time who rode in India. He made up for his lack of physical skills with his intelligence and tactical riding. He was a trainer's delight; keenly following their race instructions, yet dynamically improvising the game plan if needed.

Even when he was near retirement in the late 1970s, he displayed his skill when he rode Wild Blossom and nearly beat Squanderer (ridden by Vasant Shinde, another great jockey) in one of Pune racing season's longest races. Wild Blossom almost took a furlong lead mid-way through the race (a tactic that momentarily confounded everyone participating in as well as watching the race), and then allowing Squanderer to catch up near the bend. Shinde was thrown off his usual game plan of riding close behind the leader, he was hesitant to follow Wild Blossom closely at first, as the pace was too fast, but had to hurry up a bit after the lead appeared unusually large at the end of the backstretch which was all uphill. Shinde pushed Squanderer to catch up near the bend (came a length or two closer), and was about to settle him into a close second position. Khade got Wild Blossom to re-accelerate again (having allowed the horse to catch a second wind) and created another massive 15-length lead as they came into the home stretch. Shinde was forced to pull out his whip and ride a tired Squanderer all out to beat the completely exhausted Wild Blossom, just at the post.

Squanderer retired as one of the greatest horses India had ever produced and Khade nearly beat him on that glorious day. No one had ever come close to beating or even matching strides with Squanderer prior to that race or thereafter. Shinde often compared Squanderer to a Ferrari that could change gears with a simple nudge or release of the reins, and he had never used the whip until that day. Shinde would later say that the better horse had won, but not the rider.


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