Black Pearl, Vijay Singh’s champion colt, is finally leaving for Mumbai on February 23, to take part in the March-end billed Indian Derby. The striking stable hands have relented on the issue as the working and movement of horses, leave alone rolling them, was the pressure tactic being used by them. But some of them are deeply in love with the four-legged friends, and thus the change of heart and the attitude.
Most of the racing professionals also expect the working hands to come forward with a changed attitude. Meetings are regularly held between the club’s officials, horse owners and the other interested parties to see the resumption of the Calcutta chapter that had been suspended on February 7. “Meetings are still being held, and it in itself is good news;”, said a horse-owner, who had taken a tea break. Most of those who matter in the sports are on the negotiating tables. I see a ray of hope;” he added, with a request not to identify him.
The marathon meeting however failed to break the deadlock.
“Stable hands, on their part say: “We always try to cooperate on these issues. We only reminded them to keep promises made to us;” said Kishor (name changed), one of the RCTC syce, who did not wish to reveal his full identity. Syces’ had accepted a salary cut of 30 per cent, April 2020 onwards, with a rider that the status quo will be restored from January 2021 onwards. Needless to say that it never happened, and thus the lightning strike.
Last week, horse owners had also made an appeal to the Syces Unions: It is very unfortunate that the stable staff have stopped providing exercises to the horses for about a fortnight. This act of denying exercise tantamount to confining animals to their stalls, without relief...
Some of the stable hands leaders questioned if it was an appeal of a veiled threat?
The appeal was a request, it was explained by a big owner....horses are, particularly thoroughbreds, suffer catastrophic health if they are kept confined and denied exercises. ......they are very prone to developing the life-threatening ailments such as colic, laminitis and other disabilities..... These acts are complete violation of the prevention of cruelties by the workmen.
A section of owners also managed to get a court order against the Racehorse & Stable Employees Welfare Society and others, directing the Officer-in-charge Hastings P.S., to act.
However, hotheads are beginning to cool down, and thus so many meetings.
A letter from the Secretary of KTSB written by Daniel David states as follows: ''With reference to our letter dated 12/02/2021. We are further to inform you that the situation reported to you all in the abovementioned letter still remains unresolved with the workers refusing to remove the horses from their stables since 8th February 2021. The horses are now in the fourteenth day of this extremely perilous circumstance for the reasons already informed, which pose a grave danger to their life, health and welfare. The effect of this on the horses has now reached a critical stage, and we fear that the coming hours and days will put the already endangered animals in mortal danger.
''It is to be noted that the Learned Court has passed an order on 19th February which is self-explanatory which has been circulated to all concerned. An incident occurred at the stables of a particular trainer who had brought out horses from their stables for walking/rolling, with the assistance of volunteers on 20th February, at which time an unruly crowd of workers arrived at his stables at the Race Course, and stopped their exercise. The local Hastings P.S. was informed and arrived at the scene, their timely presence preventing the situation from getting out of hand.
''In these circumstances, some Trainers, having fewer horses under their charges have managed to walk their respective horses themselves. However, it is not physically possible for this situation to continue further as the required manpower is still not cooperating with trainers who are concerned for the welfare of all the horses.
''Trainers had attended a meeting with The Stewards, Horse Owners, Secretary of the RHSEWS and the representatives from all recognized Unions. However, the said meeting on 19th February ended without a positive outcome in spite of the concerns raised for the welfare of the animals, by Trainers and Owners. On our part, all Trainers have been continuously engaging with the workers, with pleas to consider the harm being caused to the horses and requesting all the workers to resume normal routine work which was affected since the 8th February 2021. This is not prejudicial to their matters concerning their issues with the RHSEWS. While the Trainers would have sympathy for the plight of workers, it cannot be considered above the welfare of the innocent horses being thoughtlessly endangered, which should never have happened in the first instance.
''Immediate action of all concerned is called for in this precarious situation.’’