In the just concluded racing on the Independence Day at Pune, in the 8th race, jockey P Kamlesh, right from the time the horses came out of the starting gates till the time they had come into the straight, kept on pushing foreign jockey Ladjadj Stephane time and again and the jockey did not raise any objection, maybe fearing that he had once been disqualified, and, maybe, it had made him shy of asking for justice. Where were the stewards who had earlier disqualified him in one race at Pune recently and also without L Stephane raising any objection, promoted him to a winner, pushing J Sampson to second place for no rhyme or reason in a graded race, where all jockeys just want to win, but Sampson was riding a very very fair race.
In fact, there was no one in the betting ring who must have played Stephane but there were quite a few who had backed Sampson. What happened to public choice here? Real ruthless of the stewards. In my view, and there were hundreds of other punters who were all discussing this, jockey Kamlesh should have been disqualified - rather the race should have been either re-run, which even I agree is impractical, or the race should have been declared null and void.
Jockey Prakash was the favourite and did win, but nearly 75% of the punters had backed Stephane down from 5/1 to 9/4, and jockey Kamlesh and a couple of some others, knowing fully well that Stephane would win, decided to be unfair and just did not give him passage, but kept on pushing and bumping him, so much so that once Stephane nearly would have fallen from his mount, but his expertise saved him, but he kept on trying till the end and his efforts got him the 4th position in a dead heat. In fact the other dead heated horse also was very much a part of the unfair practice adopted by Kamlesh and together they ensured that a foreign jockey did not win. Shameful - really very very shameful.
In the last race too, Horse no 11 was kept pushing out by the winner till the very end and by hook or by crook he won. Racing at Pune seems to have become nonsense racing according to me and many of the Punters. Someday, we may all come together and decide to go a strike and protest against this unfair practice, both by some jockeys and also the stewards and may write to the Government and proper authorities and even make the newspapers get up to intervene and have a say in this. I feel that if once or twice the stewards suspend the jockeys or disqualify them or declare the races null and void, it would go a long way in ensuring that such malpractices do not prevail.
I am really very, very upset. I am a punter since 1985 and remember most of the objections raised by the ace jockey P Shroff being upheld, since he would only object in genuine cases - and on a very few occasions found the stewards not agreeing with him.