The Bangalore Turf Club Stewards have been seen in poor light as most of the decisions taken by them during their last term have been set aside or diluted significantly by the Appeal Board. This does not speak highly of the Stewards who are known to take rash decisions without applying the principles of natural justice and fair play. The pity is that the same board is set to continue for one more year.
The Stewards body is expected to act as a quasi-judicial body and should do a thorough job of an enquiry before they hand out any punishment to the professionals. The Stewards believe that they are vested with powers to do anything. They are prejudiced, and they want to punish anybody and everybody because they want to exercise their authority. Let the victim go and fight for justice in a court of law if he is willing to spend time and money or suffer is their mindset. Luckily, the Appeal Board appears reasonable and has come to the rescue of the aggrieved professionals time and again. Surely, the Stewards need to introspect about their mindset.
The Stewards had suspended trainer Imtiaz for one year taking objection to the running of his ward. The Appeal Board found the suspension disproportionate and reduced the punishment to three months. More appalling was the fact that the enquiry findings did not adhere to any procedure. The procedural lapses also were noticed by the Appeal Board which reduced the suspension by a big period. On Tuesday, the Appeal Board removed the one-month suspension handed out to trainer Arjun Mangalorkar who was vicariously suspended stating the equipment had been meddled with by jockey S John who was handed out the three-month suspension. The jockey preferred not to appeal. Trainer Narayana Gowda`s appeal against the six-month suspension for in and out running of his ward was also reduced substantially by the Appeal Board.
Trainer Dominic had been suspended for 10 months as his horse was administered Premarin which is considered as a sex hormone. The drug had been traditionally administered in the turf club by the vets for many years for treating bleeders but suddenly the club woke up from the slumber and said that this was a banned drug and gave Dominic a huge suspension. The trainer pleaded that he was in no way responsible for the administration of the drug and that his job was to go to the vet with his problems and he did not have the professional expertise to understand the medications. The Stewards handed him a 10-month stiff punishment, but the Appeal Board reduced it to four months. The trainer went to court against the punishment but later withdrew the case as there seemed to be a tacit understanding that he would only be fined for the second horse which was treated for the same drug. Interestingly, three other trainers were let off with only fines by the same Stewards who obviously were acting without applying their mind. The club on its part does not make any attempt to brief the trainers about the medication rules and how their interpretation could change overnight! The Stewards must be made to attend a refresher course to make them more responsible for their actions. They are acting in a rash manner because they are not held accountable for their actions.
The truncated winter season is set to start on Friday. The winter season which was one time for 32 to 34 days has now been reduced to 26 days. There has been no hike in stake money. The owners are left to fend for themselves as the cost of maintenance of horses has hit the roof but there is no relief in terms of increased stake money. At this rate, more racehorse owners would stop owning horses. The BTC is also not helping the matter by putting unreasonable conditions for approving new owners. The applicants are not at all made to feel comfortable and the attitude of the Stewards make them feel that they are unwelcome. This has hit many trainers hard. Many are contemplating retiring. The number of horses stationed at Bangalore has come down significantly and the attitude of the Stewards is not going to help matters.
The focus of attention should have been on the winter season, but everyone is curiously awaiting the outcome of the two Special General Body Meetings scheduled for November 19 and 20. The first meeting is a totally negative one and this has been called to vote for the resolution to expel 12 members of the club for alleged acts or omissions following a lop-sided Special Enquiry report. The internecine quarrel among members is such that some of them would go to any length to see that they vitiate the atmosphere. It remains to be seen if the Chairman of the Club Harimohan Naidu steps aside and allows somebody else to chair the meeting to respect the sentiments of the members who have made their reservations against him very clear. The second day`s resolution is to amend Article 60 and to nullify the Special Enquiry Report. However, the scheduling of the meeting makes the second day`s meeting infructuous if the first day`s resolution goes through partially or completely.