The past year has seen some major upheavals in our sport, a major regime change has taken place at RWITC, where the incumbent team led by Vivek Jain was replaced by Khushroo Dhunjibhoy’s crew. The sport in Western India has been in steep decline as nobody has had the ability to make the business of racing pay dividends as it should. A totalisator that is crippled by a myopic government tax structure and successive committees that have little or no understanding of how racing ought to be run in the 21st Century, have led to the club facing losses whenever they conduct what is supposed to be their core activity; racing. Racing at RWITC is conducted so that people may feed the cancer that eats our sport the Bookmaker; legal and illegal. In the process RWITC loses pots of money by conducting racing, unfortunately that is the bitter truth and there appears to be no resolution in sight as RWITC for all their pomp and show can only better Delhi in their stake money structure. A highly inefficient accounts department, hospital bills that would make you believe that your horse is terminally ill and a perception that certain people get favoured all add to the mire that is Western India racing.
The club system has manifested itself to destroy any hope the sport might have of moving into the 21st century. Archaic institutions run with archaic methods, systems that are easily manipulated and a lack of a positive image have made our clubs into badly run quasi governmental set ups with acres of red tape and poorly run systems. The bottomline effects nobody, nobody’s personal pocket is hit so poor decisions are regularly made. Not one club is run with business principles in mind, every club is only as competent as its membership and in many cases the lack of capable people within the general body. Nowhere is this more evident than at Madras Race Club. In the general hullabaloo of the RWITC elections a very vital development has slipped under the radar. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the goings on at Madras Race Club.
What was once South India’s premier racing centre has been rendered as to what can only be called the shame of our racing and breeding industry. Rigged racing under the garb of racing under rules, rampant corruption prevails and everything that can go wrong in racing has gone down at Madras Race Club. Its a slap on the face of every single member of our community, the Turf Authorities of India deserve to have their mandated powers to run racing under rules cancelled and every one of us is to blame. As a breeder I must hold up my hand as well that for our own personal benefit we have turned a blind eye to the destruction of one of the best racing set ups in Asia, yes every single one of us are to blame, barring none. When Always A Rainbow went up on the Stud Book wall as a sire of 10 classic winners, you may as well take a blow torch to the achievers of our sport, we rendered useless and disrespected the legacy of great Indian Stallions like; Razeen, Placerville, Grey Gaston, Everyday II, Riyahi, Rock Of Gibraltar, Prince Pradeep, Ilheus and Knight Of Medina. Shame on all of us, the farm statistics that we breeders are judged by are polluted by stake money earnings from Chennai. Honestly speaking India and as such the Turf Authorities of India which is supposed to ensure the integrity of the sport and represents India at the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA) need to answer a lot of hard questions as to how all this has been allowed to happen and that too in plain sight.
Our industry needs to take a long hard look at itself and start behaving in a more accountable and professional manner, since we aspire to be members of the world racing community and are hosting the Asian Racing Conference in 2016. Since we were so damn quick to sign up to honour the impractical and Utopian Zero Tolerance on drugs pledge with the IFHA, shouldn’t we also think about a no under our noses CHEATING pledge? Its about time the records of Madras and Ooty racing are expunged from our pedigrees and catalogues. This isn’t racing under rules and the few Gymkhana races conducted at the end of Bombay season last year and at Lucknow have far greater integrity. The winner of the South India Classics more often than not even emerges India’s Horse Of The Year. The Mile and a Half South India Oaks is always run in a timing of 3 minutes plus. Since the IFHA are sort of the custodians of world racing rules, its about time Mr. Romanet and his team investigate Madras Race Club and kick them out of our sport. Nobody realises this but Madras Race Club graded race winners and placers appear in the Keeneland, Goffs, Arqana, Tattersalls, Inglis, Fasig Tipton and every other world sales company’s catalogue as black type. In other words the guys who compile these catalogues are misrepresenting pedigrees and facts to their prospective buyers and clients. Does sound dastardly and crooked when one puts it like that, doesn’t it? On Invitation weekend the annual awards jamboree gets the gas taken out of it since the stats from Madras pretty much ruin the entire show, as the winners are all complete unknowns to the rest of us because rampant fixing gives us results which are impossible to match in any competitive racing jurisdiction. Even Aidan O’Brien’s phenomenal record in the Irish Derby pales in comparison to the records at Madras race Club.
I’d be amiss to leave Bangalore Turf Club out of my rant. Their racing department may as well not exist, it wouldn’t really matter. There was a time that a team of stipes would interact with professionals, see trackwork and generally have a good idea of what the sport looks like outside their crappy offices. Moving around and observing trackwork would give these guys a bit of a better idea of all goings on. Its disturbing to see racing at BTC nowadays and any experienced person in the sport could tell that gambling syndicates have hijacked the sport and the officialdom has no clue about it. Their handicapper like any pen pushing non horse person keeps on screwing things up even further, apart from a strategy where he wants Mo Farra to run vs Usain Bolt over 265 Metres he has novel methods by which to rape the sport. His latest contribution is an upper limit of 45 horses per trainer, after all in his mind this is a Marxist sport for horses that can run over 6 and 7 Furlongs and are 5 years old and over. So why not introduce a bit of socialism where their top trainers can be treated the same as many who do the sport a great disservice by choosing to be trainers. Simply put certain trainers’ horses get bet more than others, like Todd Pletcher in U.S.A. or Andre Fabre in France, similarly a large chunk of the tote turnover for the club comes from their superior trainers and a set percentage of that money goes to the club. In other words certain trainers earn more money for BTC. One would think they ought to be treated better than a squatter who occupies 10 stables. By limiting the quota for their top men to such a low number the handicapper’s new rule is LOSING Bangalore Turf Club MONEY!!! The data is available as BTC has a very well hooked up tote, so they ought to look at these stats if nothing else at least as an academic exercise.
Their rules are arbitrary at best and recently in what ought to be classified as a case of racism they have been asking Padmanabhan’s assistant James Mckeown who incidentally happens to be Caucasian and comes into the sport with an enviable resume to also do circus tricks. He has been asked to produce documentation which doesn’t even exist in India, possibly they want to see him perform some magic tricks for their general entertainment. The said assistant trainer applied for a license with an enviable bio data with stints in USA, England and a very long association as an assistant to India’s top trainer in S Padmanabhan, further to this he did very well in the written exam too. Rather than give him a license many other extension counters have been added to the existing Babu Rao’s of the sport! Wake up and smell the coffee BTC, start running racing as a sport, its nobody’s fiefdom. Your quotas are ruining the sport of racing!