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Racing confronted by lockdown and lockout

  May 4 , 2020

Uncertainty looms large over the start of racing in India in the near future. The British Horse Racing Authority has just announced an ambitious racing programme if permission were to be given for resumption of racing sometime later this month. The Bangalore Sumer Season was to start sometime in the second week of May but given the current situation, racing may not resume in quick time unless there is a turnaround in the thinking on the government to permit sporting activities to resume without placing restrictions on the crowd. The lockdown has impaired the financial capability of the turf clubs and if activities don`t resume quickly, racing is in danger of a permanent lockout.

Physical distancing will be the new norm and for a sport like horse racing, it is impossible to follow such a protocol because the lifeline of the sport is betting in a crowded environment in the absence of online betting. The online betting facility is available in almost all racing jurisdictions in the world but our authorities have been unable to extract any concession from the government because they are good at petty politics but poor at lobbying. Given the dynamics of the new world order which has been dramatically impacted by the contagious coronavirus, things can never be the same again. The onus is on the administrators of the sport to think of new ways to ensure that the sport doesn`t die a natural death. Sadly, nothing much seems to be happening. One is not sure if the Turf Authorities of India is planning to have a virtual conference to discuss the way out.

The Bangalore Turf Club recently announced that it is cancelling the licenses of all the jockeys with immediate effect. The licenses of the jockeys are renewed each year at the beginning of May and as such, the decision to cancel the license of the jockeys makes little license as racing is not going to resume shortly. When the time comes, the turf club would surely have to license the jockeys as racing cannot run without them. The only purpose that the letter would have served is to show its anger on the Jockeys Association of India which had raised serious issues following the turf club not putting in place the protocols and allowing jockeys who were not residents of the club premises coming and working the horses. There was a real danger of those inside being exposed to the dangers of contracting the virus from those coming from outside. The Jockeys Association of India President Pradeep Chouhan said that following the association raising the concerns and asking the clubs to stop working of horses, all the turf clubs put in place various protocols by not allowing anyone from outside to come and work the horses. The turf club was also forced to make arrangements for providing daily essentials though the Bangalore Turf Club has not been generous in giving anything free unlike other turf clubs in the country where minimum needs have been taken care of.

The Jockeys Association of India has been leading by example by advancing a sum of Rs 10,000 per month to needy jockeys to be adjusted against their retirement benefit. The jockeys association has said they have extended the facility to more than 180 jockeys and the same will be reviewed depending on the way the situation develops. ``It is easy to blame the jockeys and its association for any suggestion or concern it expresses to the authorities. ``We know the pain of those who are not able to buy their daily need not only during COVID 19 but in normal circumstances as well. We have to look after them and their families too. JAI is not only looking after the jockeys and their immediate family but also addresses the medical needs of their parents as well. People just see the top 20 riders of India and think that the jockeys are making huge money but they don`t see the plight of about 450 jockeys who are struggling. The top 20 jockeys are taking care of the other jockeys by their contribution from their earnings to the Jockeys Association of India,`` said Chouhan who is the President of JAI.

There is no word from the Bangalore Turf Club about the fate of the summer racing season though there was a notice issued on May 3 that the supplementary entries for classics would close on June 8. There has been a deafening silence from the club as to the fate of the summer season and when they believe racing could resume though the club mandarins are busy with their politics. The club forced its Secretary Pradeep Kulkarni to resign because he did not come for work for two weeks. He was following the protocol of being quarantined as somebody in the apartment complex where he stayed had reportedly tested positive for COVID 19. The BTC authorities believe in throwing their weight. They could have waited for the COVID situation to improve before asking its Secretary to quit as he was getting the hang of the job. The club is now without a mandated Company Secretary though they won`t` come into a problem because of this. Effective communication is not a forte with BTC.

The turf club has also abdicated its responsibility as far as the daily wage earners are concerned. Clubs like Hyderabad Race Club gave an onetime payment to its tote workers while giving ration and other necessities to daily wage-earning course workers. The RWITC Committee members and a leading racehorse owner Dilip Thacker have taken the lead in mitigating the problems of the racecourse workers by their welfare measures. BTC has not extended such gesture though for a photo opportunity, they presented a cheque of Rs 25 lakhs to the Chief Minister`s Relief Fund while keeping its own faithful staff of daily wage earners hungry. They don`t believe that charity begins at home. The turf club is also at loggerheads with the trainers and owners body with regard to credit given as Basic Training Fee. The club wants to withdraw the facility. The economy runs on credit but BTC authorities think otherwise. The same people were actively considering spending about Rs 3.5 crores on upgrading the facilities at the veterinary hospital while denying credit which could cause serious problems if more owners are unable to meet with their monthly commitment in the light of the lockdown which has compromised the liquidity available with the majority of people.

The BTC should show statesmanship and put aside its petty egos to work towards ensuring that it doesn`t throw the sport into greater crisis by its rigidity. Magnanimity in these times of need would work to everyone`s advantage and prevent a lockout like situation.

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Total Comments : 9
Posted by Rowdy on ( May 14 , 2020 )
Increase the entry fee and Keep minimum bet per race is Rs.1000, then only we can control the rush in the racecourse, thereby we can maintain social distancing and also don`t give entry for above 65 years age people they are more like to be affected by the coronavirus.

Save horseracing save horses??

Thank u??
Posted by Chandulal on ( May 4 , 2020 )
BTC alone is not to be blamed. It’s the ostrich with its head buried in the sand also known as TAI . With powers near defunct, and nothing but a white elephant, this body has not lifted a finger in the interest of the sport. Had it been more proactive the draconian GST slabs which are being levied on horse racing would have been brought to some reasonable levels and innovative in line betting introduced with a written undertaking to give a fixed amount to the government in lieu of 3 or 4 % tax with betting running into thousands of crores. Shame .
Posted by muneer mirza on ( May 10 , 2020 )
Sir,if all turf clubs want`s to work together only one policy is that all bookmarks pay adavance stall fee`s all centres as basic as wine shops pay adavance to government ,as in one day government made 65,cores , and adavance will help to the club`s to come of their problems if they say no then we can call on government asking them 10/tax on totes, this will bring huge burden which on club`s,any bookmarks their betting behind curtains , this last chance for all the club`s,and one tote policey, and request Dr.Cyrus Poonawalla to be all super Chairman of all club`s,or this will closed down ,as coroan way, please Dr. Cyrus has long way thinking and like others people`s ,any poor person calls turn back yes he say, rest please keep your fights sided of committee rooms.Long Live Dr.Cyrus Poonawalla ,man care for every one.Muneer Mirza
Posted by Rowdy on ( May 23 , 2020 )
There are about 10000 horse lives are in trouble due to this lockdown, to maintain a pet dog we have to spend Rs.1000 per day and to maintain one horse they are spending Rs 1000 per day. If this lockdown continues then there will be a big problem to the lives of all horses in India. Don`t think racing is only to get money or to lose money if u ask me racing giving life to horses in the world. One day if I loose Rs.1000 I won`t feel bad because I know this money gives food to at least one horse, I am happy.
By increasing the entry fee and minimum bet price we can reduce the rush. Keep entry fee Rs 200, minimum bet Rs.500 and avoid quinella, trinella and exacta betting, so that we can maintain social distancing. Plzzz start the race as soon as possible.
Save the horseracing and save the horses
Thank u
Posted by HARI KRISHNA BANDARU on ( May 28 , 2020 )
Instead of daily entry fee; make a season wise pass mandatory for everyone.(Price as per racing authorities) Let the minimum betting be as it is. Start on the practise of legal online horse betting in India. The Indian Racing authorities should make it happen with striking a deal with the Indian Government; also discussing the other problems . You charge a nominal fee for online betting for each season OR monthly, bi- monthly & quarterly as this would see that racing doesn`t lose the charm of an regular punter who is very important for the racing to survive.
The above points are my personal suggestions and opinion.
Fee structure for seasonal entry, online account opening charges, taxes there upon, security issues as per the authorities concerned.
Meanwhile; fines, penalties & punishment should seriously be considered upon punters who spoil the inside premises.
An serious check upon the bookmakers should also be considered. It`s now high time that we clean up the inside dirty filth of betting.

Posted by muneer mirza on ( May 4 , 2020 )
Sir, there are very few people`s in Indian racing understand about racing one of them Mr.Sharan Kumar as pen speak truth what he writes is facts of racing if some racing`s public enter race course ,with corano or who will be held responsible ,and as per President of India Jockeys has said in his interview racing pulses ,then all club`s should repaly to comments ,if any get this corona who should be held Government or club`s, they are more worries for bookmarks then people`s as they live or die.
Posted by AB on ( May 5 , 2020 )
Mr.Sharan perfect timing.

But worst gesture by BTC by ignoring their employees in the hard times. Why Nobody is coming out still?..Are they worrying about double payments including corona season & JUNE racing season . seems No1 got a Big Heart in BTC.
Posted by HS Srikanth on ( May 4 , 2020 )
BTC Committee donation to the CMs fund ignoring their own employees, syces and daily wage earners by not providing them the much required relief,reminds me of an old saying in Kannada "Oorge upakari Manege maari" The act is a mere publicity stunt and a loose PR exercise.
Posted by Rowdy on ( June 3 , 2020 )
Who will suffer if racing completely stopped due to Covid19?

No problem to the owners and trainers , they do some other business. No problem to the jockeys and other employees, they do some other work. Now there will be a big problem to the horses because they know only running they can’t do other work. I am telling if horse racing dies then all the horses will die. I am requesting all plzzz support the horse racing , explain this to government and save the lives of all horses. Increase the entry fee from Rs.40 to Rs. 500 so that we can control the rush and social distancing will be easy Plzz start as son as possible . Thank u.
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