The Bangalore Turf Club`s attempt to poach a Senior Stipendiary Steward from Delhi Race Club came up for stiff resistance from the latter. In the end, the BTC had to beat a hasty retreat after Delhi Race Club sought to raise the issue at the Turf Authorities of India meeting at Ooty. The BTC`s appointing Riaz Khan without seeking the consent of the authorities of Delhi Race Club where he is presently employed was against the written understanding among the turf authorities of India not to poach each other`s officials. But the present BTC committee which has goofed up on several matters once again was seen in poor light showing a blissful ignorance.
The problem with BTC management is that it ill-treats the officials who are already on its employment and creates situations which cause their exit. Pradyumna Singh was the Chief Stipendiary Steward for the last two years but unfortunately, he was made a victim of the Queen Latifa case where because of the conspiracy theory successfully floated by certain disgruntled members resulted in the matter going out of hand. The Monitoring Committee recommended those who had been named in the charge-sheet of the police should be kept out of racing activity resulting in Pradyumna Singh resigning. Initially, the club authorities refused to accept his resignation because it wanted to humiliate the official by keeping him under suspension. Finally, wiser counsel prevailed, and the official could resign. The Madras Race Club thanked the BTC for its thoughtless action of harassing its officials and making them resign by appointing Pradyumna Singh as the Chief Stipendiary Steward of their club. It is difficult to get good racing officials because of the way the sport is administered by the elected Stewards who treat the officials like punching bags. BTC authorities don`t believe that relationships are built on trust and respect. This applies to all their activities including the way they deal with the professionals and others as well. Ignorance, vanity, pride and arrogance characterises their action.
The BTC`s current CEO was perhaps unaware of the protocol because he failed to guide the authorities. Though the Delhi Race Club Chairman requested the BTC Chairman not to poach its official, the BTC mandarins, as usual, showed callous regard to any accepted norm and appointed him. Riaz Khan reportedly resigned from his job at Delhi but was not released from the job. In the meanwhile, the Delhi Race Club got its grievance listed on the agenda of the Turf Authorities of India meeting that was scheduled to be held at Ooty. Before the matter could come for consideration, the Chairmen of the two clubs resolved the issue with BTC backing off like it has done in so many instances including the sacking of a senior official and then reinstating him following a rap from the High Court.
The BTC is left with a piquant situation having made its Senior Stipendiary Steward Mahender as the Handicapper. With the two stipes on the roll being relatively inexperienced, the club is forced to give the additional job of being the race day Senior Stipendiary Steward to Mahender.
The Chief Stipendiary`s job is of critical importance to protect the integrity of the sport. The ad hoc arrangement as the one that the club has resorted to will surely compromise the sport in a significant way. In 2009, the Chief Handicapper was also made the Chief Stipendiary Steward. The owners association had protested stating that this arrangement compromised the importance of each wing of racing activity and demanded that one man one job principle should be followed. The then committee accepted the argument and put the Chief Stipendiary Steward back only as the Chief Handicapper.
Unfortunately, this year there are only three elected Stewards and three inexperienced novices have been nominated as Stewards which has seriously affected the functioning of the club. The Chairman has his own agenda to take care of while the other senior most member is a bad let down. The government nominated Stewards don`t take part in the club`s affairs except being on the board of the club and their experience in administration matters little under the circumstances though their listing on the board is used to justify the questionable acts by the BTC managing committee.