Zareer Darashah is quite unlike most Indian trainers. He is truly a character. His restlessness and his excitable nature have firmly implanted on the race-goers. He is quite a sight at the paddock when he is instructing his jockeys. And he does not walk down from the stands to lead in his winners but literally flies in there!
Darashah’s zest for racing has not dimmed despite being in the field for well over three decades. Though he is close to saddling 2000 winners, he relishes every win, not hesitating to take a dig at fellow trainers for not working hard enough. ``I don’t believe in hiding my emotions, be it when winning or loosing,’’ says Darashah.
Darashah is a breed apart in the way he goes about doing things. He has not chased classic winners though he has had his share of success in them. For him, leading in a handicap race winner gives him as much satisfaction as winning a big race. And he does not believe in bringing off coups though they might happen inadvertently. His main concern is to ensure that the owner gets his due by way of horses maintaining their upkeep by winning as many races as possible. ``I believe in winning all the time and my attitude has seen me win many races that I would not have won if my fellow professionals shared the same attitude,’’ he says candidly.
Being the son of a former Karnataka Ranji Trophy player Shafi Darashah, cricket was his passion though he did not make the grade unlike his father and as such, he took to racing with a purposefulness that has seen reap rich rewards. ``I didn’t come from a very affluent background and I worked hard for everything I have earned. Today, I am the biggest owner-trainer in the country. I have won well over 500 races from horses owned by me. I don’t hesitate to take shares in the horses owned by my patrons to reduce their burden as I am confident that the investment would not go down the drain,’’ says the hard-working professional.
Darashah has had the services of all the top jockeys of the country like Jagdish, Vasant Shinde, Karan Singh, Warren Singh, Appu et al. Incidentally, his first career win came through You Will, ridden by Jim Foley who went on to became a top trainer in the country, saddling classic races by the dozen. He is responsible for shaping the career of Appu and he has great love for the talented professional. ``I have nurtured Appu from the age of 11. He is hard working, immensely talented and a perfect team man,’’ says Darashah wholeheartedly.
What is it being a trainer for over three decades? ``Well, in racing, there are more bad days than good days and one should have the courage to take these things calmly,’’ says Darashah who has had his ups and downs. Even the trainers who have been at the receiving end by his barbs too cannot help grudgingly acknowledge that his success is the result of hard work and his ability to constantly improve by being a serious student of the game.
Darashah had his initiation under Englishman D C Jarvis and also trained under veteran Madhu Mangalorkar for six months before taking his license at Secunderabad in 1967 where he trained for one year. He shifted to Bangalore in 69 and has not looked back since, his enthusiasm only getting better with each year. His balding pate may have something to do with him pulling off a hair each time his horse lost by a whisker!