Indian Racing, where are we headed? Part 1: An introduction.

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.

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22 thoughts on “Indian Racing, where are we headed? Part 1: An introduction.

  1. Well done, Tegbir! We need your generation to become more involved (and to take over from us!) and your blog will no doubt be at the forefront of this evolution.

  2. Dear Mr Brar,

    Atlast or should I say a new begining a prominent owner someone behind the Iron curtain is speaking his mind frankly good to plain honesty that you have started with Martin & Antia issues .Looking forward read more

  3. We are unfortunately in the unrelenting grips of the Mafia, across the country.

    The Racing officials, et al, are simply pawns in their endgame. Nothing can save or ameliorate this situation. The Mafia iobviously operates through the bookies, so unless their inroads into this business is plugged, one will never ever witness fair racing in the country, however vociferous our protests are!

    Banish the bookies for good and see how normalcy returns. Let there be only Tote betting.

    USA, Japan, Hongkong and most other countries operate only through the tote. Has their industry closed down? Far from it.

    The question is who will bell the cat?

  4. The corruption in the game has left a bad taste…. the root of corruption is entertaining the booky by the industry. A strong tote system and can help improve quality of racing on the lines of Hong Kong Jockey Club.

      • Dear Mr Brar & Kamath,

        The bookies are as old as our system,They cant be thrown ,Why cant we allow competition ,Open online books Like bet 365,Ladbrookes etc Let anyone who pays a good fee be allowed to be a bookies

      • See what these big bookies have done to the sport and stake money in England. Whoever produces the racing product must have full control of every rupee bet. The bookies are parasites and in my opinion they have no place in the sport of racing when we have a better system ie the Tote.

      • Hi Tegbir,

        Don’t turn this blog into frustrater’s punching bag.
        Stick to what you stated-All about Indian racing only’.

        With regards to bookies and their ll-effects!
        Well,on’t you think the professionals are hand-in-glove with them.Let’s not get into all that.
        As long as people are willing to sell their soul for money,there is nothing much anyone can do about it.

        For a start,why don’t you state about your experience as a owner!
        I eagerly would want to know it.

        Rest in next.
        All the best.

        regds,
        Cruise

      • Dear Mr. Mahesh and Cruise, I wouldn’t like to get into a debate on who desperately needs the book maker. Anyways now Mahesh as we know that the bookies are the known devil there is no harm in trying to improve over the age old system.
        For Cruise if its well known that as long as people are willing to sell their soul for money, and ‘there is nothing much anyone can do about it.’ The MUCH that can be done is just altering the equation by removing the Devils book maker from equation.
        Today Btc has a turnover in crores on the tote. Of which 8% goes to the government. With the bookmakers out of the equation the collections will easily double and on a lighter vein the govt. instead of trying to add on unreasonable taxes like Windfall and service taxes might just decide to sponsor a few races to improve their revenue collections.
        I hope someone realises that if these additional taxes hold good then it would be a killing blow to the industry in a short while. The government needs to be shown ways of doubling their revenue out of the sport so that racing remains a sport and doesn’t end up as pure GAMBLING as currently being termed by the government.

  5. Looking forward to your next posting…. You write well and it’s always interesting to hear your views. What are your thoughts on Mumbai Mirror piece on recording of MD and PM?

    • I was shocked and disgusted when I read it but the good thing is that they did state that Paddy and David Allan are always on for winning which is a huge positive story in my opinion.

      • As one sees it ,it is nothing other than A FACE SAVING vendetta on part of the Chairman, the journalist & the news paper ! What evidence? a bedroom talk ? where they discuss the form of medicore runners they find interesting in India? where the currency is SIXTY times cheaper against their value ? Even if they decide to steal/earn what will they benifit-earn liquid cash for some bootpolish ?(or a substandard byriyani in a sleazy joint) It is really pathetic the level people stoop down to out of sheer jeolousy maybe?

  6. Thanks Tegbir, youre mistaken regarding racism. sometimes a strong language is necessary to drive a point home.[to hit a nail on the head is better than pulling it from the back] It is just that a publication with mass coverage wastes an entire front page for a petty irrelevent issue of this kind. Many would definitely agree with me. The journalist is the current hero of the story at least for now. Lets see how the story unfolds and ends in due course. If at all something good comes out for the betterment of the sport in question well and good. [ your writing is very good and you cant expect everyone to write like yourself ] I will definitely learn to improve myself in future. once again wishing you well for the much needed informative blog of yours.

  7. What about taxes, Every time I get a JP or any other payment above 5000 it really hurts to see 35% gone as windfall tax.

    The Honorable Supreme court judgement clearly says its a game of skill not chance and that also means I can earn a living or run a business with my skill thereby I am at par with a doctor,carpenter or trader who earns his livng by using his skill,I am therefore entitled to be treated at par with other skilled men and taxed like them isn’t it ?Why should my earning that comes from my skill be a windfall gain…?

    My grudge is the clubs aren’t fighting this for the punters they forget they are the guardians of this sport and have to protect the interest of not just the high & mighty but the all stake holders

    As an individual I cannot fight this because I can only approach a lower court which at best will tell me to go to Income tax tribunal and take it up with the ITO.

    But,the clubs can go to Supreme court directly and argue this unfair treatment ,They have strong case & resources too….Hope there is a way for that.

    • recently I like one horse at Delhi named EPISODE, some technical glitch the tote fail to operate, I run to the bookie and request him to write a card for rupee 100 at five and a half to one with tax, he says he will take minimum bet of rupees 500 at half tax and refuses to write a card, same thing with the other few bookies also meanwhile the race starts and the horse wins ! I end up feeling sad. May be this is a small issue but in India people rather avoid paying whatever Tax wherever possible. Later I came to know that since the govt. has fixed -fixedamout of Tax for each race run they (the bookies) need not have to follow the rules since they are exempt from writing a card that is a legal receipt for playing a bet. what kind of people fix these kind of system in the Tax dept. ? moreover they have never once checked people weather they have a valid ticket to enter the premises where entertainment tax is mentioned and taken along with the admission amount. So a lot of seepage of revenue for the government.

  8. Let us take it for granted for the moment that Bookies are a menace. However; what about the trainers who are hand in glove with the devil and what of the owners who are in the sport for the same reasons??? There are many big owners who will make sure to lay their good thoroughbreds if running at on money. This is the “Human-Trait” and if anybody needs to be blamed here then its the human being that is trying to pull the strings at his level. Whats the point travelling a beaten street? If you have knowledge to share then share it to improve the punting skills of the individuals. There is enough of finger-pointing happening on enough blogs.
    All that you have written above are known facts. The point is whether you have a way of challenging the system and finding a way out? No point crying with a bunch of loosers. Please get it right… we all know what point you are trying to make. However being a breeder for a while puts you higher than us then let us know why breeders do not mind selling their best stock to the gambler owners and trainers to begin with?

    • The reason we need bookies out is the fact that they aren’t honest about declaring their real turnover to clubs as a result the clubs are losing revenue. If they’re involved in other nefarious activities the onus is on the authorities to catch them and prevent the same.

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