Wednesday's racing at Mysore was marred by public protests after the Stewards decided to uphold a seemingly frivolous objection, and relegated the half money favourite Dragonair into second place in the penultimate race of the afternoon. The horses for the last race had reached the starting gates by the time they announced their decision, and this enabled the authorities to complete the day's card. The reaction of the crowd was instant, and there was a huge outcry. There was no way that the horses could have left the paddock under these circumstances. In fact, the riders had a tough time returning to the unsaddling enclosure after the completion of this race.
A section of the crowd reportedly went on a rampage in the bookmakers ring, and smashed the furniture. These sorts of incidents are poor advertisement for a sport which in recent times is under the State Government's scanner.
The race in question saw one-sided support for Dragonair, who was backed down to half-money favouritism. Madhubabu took Rakesh's charge on a start-to-finish mission, and settled into a comfortable lead ahead of Greek Ship till the heads turned for home. Jockey Mahendran decided to pull out his stick at this stage, and asked Greek Ship to make up the leeway on the leader.
Madhubabu urged the favourite for a while before giving him a tap or two. The two horses began to roll out under pressure, with Dragonair maintaining a comfortable lead ahead of his pursuer. The two horses never made contact with each other, nor did the leader hamper the running of Greek Ship. Mahendran did not stop riding Greek Ship at any stage of the race. This fact was distinctly visible on the close circuit monitors that repeatedly played out the final stages of this incident.
Dragonair wasn't duly punished in the final fifty metres to comfortably finish a length ahead of Greek Ship. The rest of the runners led by Artistic Way ended way behind the leading duo.
To the surprise of many, an objection was lodged in this race. Mahendran contended that the winner had hampered his horse from doing his best, but for which, Greek Ship would have won this race. The racing public did not pay much attention to the happenings in the Stewards Room because they thought that the objection lacked merit.
What transpired thereafter on the TV screens telecasting the live handling of this case was truly baffling. The Senior Stipe of The Bangalore Turf Club, who travels every race day to Mysore and supervises racing at that centre, opined that this was a serious case of interference. He further went on to say that the winner had definitely hampered the running of Greek Ship, Mahendran had stopped riding Greek Ship in the final stages of the race and the objecting horse had lost a certain race. He proposed that the objection be upheld. The local Stipe followed the same path of reasoning.
The Stewards seemed to be confused and were seen arguing the pros and cons of this case. After repeatedly viewing the TV footage, they decided to go along with the professional advice given to them. Racegoers were shocked to hear that the Stewards had decided to "Uphold" the objection. What confused them more than anything else was the fact that the same Stewards had over-ruled more serious objections like Ashkan against Vertex, and Theworldismine against Ohiyesa in the last couple of weeks. The Stewards of the Mysore Race Club need to be more consistent in their decisions while handling objections, and use their own astute judgement without being overawed by the opinion of the stipes.
Many knowledgeable old timers blamed the BTC for the current state of affairs. The present Senior Stipendiary Steward was assisting the Chief Handicapper till very recently. He used to take the dictaphone around the paddock, and tape the instructions given by the trainers to their jockeys. All of a sudden, he was propelled into the chair of the Senior Stipendiary Steward. He lacks the relevant knowledge and experience for a position which was held by the likes of Arshad Ali Khan, Dara Modi, Bobby Basu, Narasimhan and his immediate predecessor Raman.
The job needs specific capabilities and experience, and the present incumbent is found wanting. One must understand that a lot of public money is involved, and a person of impeccable credentials needs to occupy this chair. The Bangalore Turf Club appointed Mr Fin Powrie at a cost of almost Rs 4 Million per annum, to advise them on racing matters. For reasons best known to the authorities, they are underutilizing his services. At the same time, they have given a promotion to a relatively new person to head this department.
The rest of the day's card was quite lacklustre. The H H Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Club Gold Trophy was annexed by Santosh Rao's Mahaseer. This horse had run a fortnight back, and finished more than a distance behind the winner. He was the medium of a solid gamble in today's race, and obliged accordingly. He won by more than a distance in this race.
It is difficult to fathom how a nine year old can improve by more than 25 lengths in a fortnight. Trainer Santosh Rao should be complimented for this transformation. The Mysore City Gold Cup gave Santosh Rao his double for the day. P Mani goaded his mount Worth A Gold to finish powerfully, and nail the leader The Force near the winning post. Al Qamar was a notable third.
Trainer Monappa was disappointed to see the run of Opera Princess in the day's opener. The filly was fancied on the basis of her run on the opening day of the season, when she had rallied to take the second spot. Opera princess was in no mood to gallop, and finished in the ruck. Queen Of Speed won from a fast finishing Major Impression and Alpha Centauri. Monappa had immediate relief when his eight-year old Cartouche made all the running to win an eight furlong race for horses in class IV.
He was the market fancy, and returned a popular winner ahead of Jericho. The rest of the runners were seen plodding at the rear end of the field. The only other race in the day's card was won by Kandiate. This on-money favourite made all the running and was followed home by Noname. The latter was extended after a long time, and should benefit from today's experience.