Our racing industry is facing a huge problem right now. We have too much of everything, we breeders are breeding too many horses and unfortunately more often than not more bad horses than good. Too many trainers have been licensed, too many substandard jockeys keep on plying their trade. Our racing jurisdictions are framing too many races and as a result the entire level of our industry has fallen.
Unfortunately at the top level nothing has changed, we have regressed. If one were to look at the trainers’ tally no new names can be found. There are exceptions though and interestingly all the exceptions are trainers who got their grounding under top people over a period of time and thus got their licenses. Two names that immediately spring to mind are Sulaiman Attaollahi and M Srinivas Reddy. The former who is a third generation trainer initially had an interest in riding which manifested itself into an interest in racing, he worked at Nanoli Stud after which he joined Vijay Mallya’s URBB and assisted champion trainer the late Jaggy Dhariwal. M Srinivas Reddy or Srinu as he is fondly known as on the other hand has been assistant to Hyderabad’s leading trainer Vittal Deshmukh for a very long time. Both have had breakthrough years in 2015 and since experience is key in the sport expect both these guys to get better and better over the years.
Unfortunately both these young men are exceptions and the majority of trainers licensed in the past five or so years aren’t exactly setting the Thames on fire. As our stake money struggles to keep pace with inflation the earning potential in the sport is not quite up there to attract the quality of person that the sport attracted in the 70s, 80s and 90s who wanted to become trainers. In those days it was a huge thing to hold a trainers’ license. Not many know this but the late Madhav Mangalorkar ran away from home in Pune in trainer BP Shivan’s float. Once Shivan told his parents that their son was safe and sound, Madhav started working for him and then went on to become an all time great trainer in the sport.
Unfortunately in recent years our sport has stopped being about excellence its all about mediocrity. Nowadays you see a jockey punch the air when winning a B class 6 years old and over race. Trainers getting excited about winning similar races and breeders send you whatsapp messages about winning some ruptuppy race in Mysore one wonders what the hell is going on? So if you do indeed read my blog please understand that winning “A” race is no big deal and if you put some bookies out of business good for you, the rest of us couldn’t care less. Yes be satisfied you won but honestly I don’t want to know about it. When you win a big huge one, a graded race or a classic go nuts, break chairs, break bones, thump and puff your chest out since you’ve, “achieved” something and well done, we’re all impressed. If you need lessons in celebratory aggression I’m available for coaching.
Too much of substandard racing has slowly eroded the general enthusiasm for the sport. Substandard horses is what the authorities have catered to at the detriment of the upper Twenty Five percentile of the sport. The difference in purse money awarded at the lowest levels needs to be cut and cut drastically. Similarly stakes for the higher classes need to go up exponentially. I know the majority of professionals would be against such a move but unfortunately you sir are only cutting your own feet or you aren’t capable of training good horses. Interestingly every year towards the end of Hyderabad Winter season Vittal Deshmukh who performs admirably with his “quota” of horses finds that suddenly his lead starts diminishing because there are fewer races for his horses who find themselves in the higher categories for example a horse like Machiavellianism probably gets one opportunity to run every month. On the flipside the category three and four stock get 8 opportunities to run every month. I do understand that the so called low end stock holds up the pyramid but when it comes to purse money there ought to be an inverted pyramid. This would create a situation where there is at least a temptation to excel and earn more in prize money.
My pet hate has always been low end age group racing which has been propagated to insane levels by the Bangalore handicapper. Its an odd one as I don’t think there is really a need for this. There was a time when India produced a very small number of horses so clubs encouraged stock to race for longer since lets face it numbers make up our cards. In recent times we’ve got an opposite situation whereby our racetracks are bursting at the seams as we have too many horses being produced in India. We need to cull out our bottom end stock and encourage excellence, what say? Shouldn’t that be the idea in any performance sport? Do you want to see Virat Kohli kicking ass in his prime or would you prefer seeing Kapil Dev playing in a 50 years and over cricket tournament. It’s about time that our Turf Authorities banned the framing of age group races, if a horse is capable of beating younger stock in open company, kudos and so be it thats how it works the world over. A great example is Red Cadeaux who goes for yet another Melbourne Cup at the age of 10.
A reduction in fixtures is the need of the hour, most of our raceclubs lose money on the days that they conduct live racing. Its never happened to me before because I’ve always been an absolute racing keeda all my life but nowadays I don’t even feel like checking the results in Mysore and Delhi the quality is for the lack of a better word SHIT! A visit to the proctologist would be about as exciting as the racing being conducted at these centres, the occasional big race aside. It’s about time our sport returned to the glory of excellence not linger on in the hum drum of mediocrity.