Indiarace: Was the Derby failure of Czar Alexander a big disappointment?
Pesi Shroff: If any of my horse runs below form
it is disappointing. In the Derby, Czar Alexander was expected to give a
good account of himself, but somehow he could not live up to that
expectation. Having said that, in every failure there is a lot to learn
from. It’s a learning curve. But I must hand it to Gobelin, who ran a
IR: Everyone gets wiser after the event, what’s your post Race assessment?
PS: Well, there were a few pointers. You see,
basically my horse prefers to settle at the back, he did not get to do it.
The horses that were up in front finished fourth, fifth and second last. I
had told the Jockey (C Alford) that even if he was at the rear end
initially, it was okay. However, in a race the Jockey knows best. Czar
Alexander was too keen and the jockey didn’t want to risk disturbing his
rhythm and allowed him to run as he did. The Derby is a difficult race to
ride in and one goes with the split second instinct.
I must also mention here that Czar Alexander got kicked on his left
shoulder at the starting gates by Alvida. A blow like that can be
IR: Let’s switch to the international arena. Many are of the view that it
won’t be long before our horses to do well on international turf. Do you
think we are really catching up with our counterparts overseas?
PS: I think there is a lot of work to do before
we can really make our presence felt on the international front. First of
all, do our breeders really have the confidence and are open to
international competition? Will the breeders’ lobby allow foreign horses
to compete in Indian racing? That would be the first step. Allow foreign
horses to race in India. Then we are on course to really test ourselves
whether we measure up to international standards. There should be the will
and conviction to do it. This is the most genuine yardstick. Do we have
the gumption to do it?
Saddle-up, Astonish, Adler, Mystical…they have all won on foreign soil and
more names are adding to the list. Do you see any talent in the current
crop that will make it big?
PS: It was a proud moment when Saddle-up first
tasted victory on foreign turf. Astonish, Adler, and more recently
Mystical, have done us proud too! But these successes have been few and
far between. The current crop is still peaking and there are a few
interesting prospects. The way he is shaping up, Bourbone King definitely
has it in him to go right up there. He is looking good and improving. The
end of Mumbai season will throw a clearer picture.
Many foreign jockeys are invited to ride in India. What’s the score on our
jockeys riding abroad?
PS: In England & Ireland, Indian work-jockeys are the most sought
after. We have a number of our boys who are professional work-riders
there. My stable Jockey C. Ruzaan is currently riding in Canada. So, the
opportunities are there.
What has been your international experience?
PS: I have ridden in Australia, Japan, Nairobi
and Bahrain. It was an enjoyable experience. I won in Bahrain and Nairobi,
and in Australia and Japan…I ran close.
final question, do you miss your riding days?
PS: (Smiles), I enjoyed every moment as a
jockey. I must say that I was blessed with a satisfying, long stint. That
phase is now history. I am now concentrating on training and that’s where
my focus remains. There is a lot of work ahead if I have to match my
success as a jockey, in training and I intend to do just that.