I have been involved in Racing in India for well over 30 years now, I have owned horses in every centre and every turf authority that conducts racing in India today. The primary reason for me to start this blog is because our sport is stagnating badly in the last few years and I wish to record my thoughts on a sport which I love as a fan and also as a source of livelihood. I’m an opinionated person and many of the things I say, others might not agree with but at the same time I love a healthy debate and am also flexible in my thoughts provided you can convince me. So what are we talking about? Recently racing has had bad publicity over the handling of various cases such as Martin Dwyer’s suspension handed down by RWITC which the BHA has chosen not to reciprocate. A similar controversy was created when champion English jockey Richard Hughes was handed a suspension for his riding of Jacqueline Smile last year. Recently Jacqueline Smile’s erstwhile trainer Hormuz Antia was roughed up by disgruntled punters when a favourite of his tanked at Pune and its stablemate, a longshot won. These are just a few incidents but every Racing jurisdiction in India has had its fair share of controversy as well as problems in the recent past.
How is the sport conducted in India? Racing is something that was left behind by the British Raj in India, there was a time when every army cantonment (Read British Army base) had its own racecourse and racing was very much part of the social fabric of the imperial rulers of India. Our oldest racecourse In Madras was setup in 1777. Post independence the sport went into steep decline, something that is borne out by the fact that so many towns all over India have a Racecourse Road but not a Racecourse! The socialist structure that India chose was never going to be conducive for racing to thrive in the country but many soldiered on and kept the sport alive, the main people involved in the sport were the Royalty of India the Maharajas and Nawabs and racing truly was the sport of kings. Racing evolved over a period of time and was the country of choice for all the top English jockeys in the winter when flat racing went into hibernation for the winter. The introduction of tote betting alongside bookmakers was a major innovation, I’m not too sure when it was introduced but it became an important factor in the 80s.
I don’t want to waste too much time explaining how the sport is structured in India but here is a link to its wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_racing#India, which I just sorted out today. Over the next couple of weeks I intend on going on record with the numerous problems that plague the racing and breeding industry. I would love suggestions from anybody who would like to get involved.