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Why is BTC not transparent in its racing reports?

  June 21 , 2022

The Bangalore Turf Club is not transparent when it publishes the racing incidents report at the end of each week`s racing. It apparently hides more information than it gives out. The reports are vague and doesn`t explain the actions taken. When there is an enquiry into the running and riding of any race, it doesn`t state the reason for the same. More often than not, such enquiries are much ado about nothing and end up in noting the explanations of the professionals concerned and announced more to assuage the feelings of the protesting race-goers (read as members of the club)!

What is even more glaring is the fact that the racing incidents do not contain the jockey`s inputs as to what they felt about the track and whether it had a bearing on the performance of a horse. Such information is important not only from the perspective of being transparent, but it also helps a racegoer to understand why a horse over-performed or underperformed for future reference. A number of inputs go into deciding the choice of a horse in a race by those who strictly go by their study rather than depend on the morning line!

There were doubts about racing going through last week because of the heavy rains over the days preceding the race day. The penetrometer reading which was given out was 5.5 cms. It did not specify whether the reading was uniform throughout the track or whether it was pertaining to specific portions of the track. The track can never have a uniform penetrometer reading especially on a track which has the peculiarities of the Bangalore race track which has the lowest point at the point between 700 metres and 400 metres. Water thus accumulates at the point and the track invariably is tricky at this point especially as the bends have to be negotiated and horses struggle to get a grip. Does the club want to convey that the penetrometer reading was 5.5 cms even at the point where water accumulates more and takes an inordinately long time to dry out?

In foreign jurisdictions, the penetrometer reading is spelled out more precisely, with the going at different points given out as good, soft, and heavy in a single day`s racing. If we can assure a uniform reading on the entire length of the race track, then the track in charge can be dubbed as a person capable of performing a miracle. The club should not be afraid of being truthful.

The penetrometer reading has a bearing on the timings achieved. It has a bearing on the performance of horses as well. A serious student who relies on the timing clocked by a horse under the circumstances will get a misleading picture vis-à-vis the run on the soft to heavy track as against the time when the going is good to firm. Without a doubt, the Bangalore race track is not an ideal one when it rains whatever the protestations to the contrary may be. The club also doesn`t help matters by publishing what is par timing for the track vagaries which helps in putting the performance of a horse in perspective.

Interestingly, the club has dispensed with carrying in the racing incident reports of what the jockeys report after a race. The jockeys tend to tell the stipes that their horses did not relish the going, the going was sticky, the horses didn`t get a good grip because of the looseness of the track, etc. The club stopped the practice of this information in the recent past when there was a lot of criticism about the state of the race track and suggesting that racing was held in conditions that are far from the ideal and that it affected the well-being of a horse as well. What does the club want to prove?

When the going is soft to heavy, the kickback is more, and jockeys are often blinded when the mud flies on their goggles. The horses too suffer eye injuries. What are the authorities trying to achieve by sterilizing the racing incident report by keeping this vital information out? Sometimes the kickback is so bad that the jockeys are forced to stop riding and horses too react adversely as they race together in a pack and those coming from the back are adversely impacted.

Though the horses enjoy when the track conditions are yielding as against firm going, the soft underfoot conditions have a bearing on the horses with impairments as can be made out by the report of many horses bursting blood vessels. For the time being, horses bleeding during a race is carried in the racing incidents but it is quite possible this may too be dispensed as the incidents are increasing each day.
The jockeys these days in Bangalore have become too mild and too scared of protesting against the track conditions for fear of reprisal by the authorities. Not long ago, the leading jockey of the center was hauled up for tweeting that the track was at its worst. The jockey was handed out an informal suspension by asking him not to accept rides for a considerable period of time. The authorities must keep in mind the safety of the horses and the jockeys who ride them.

The problem with BTC is that the egos of those who run the show are far bigger than their knowledge of the sport. Their feudal mindset makes it unacceptable for them to accept any criticism, however, justified it may be. At the slightest provocation, they are prone to take illegal actions, and the victim is forced to spend money in legal battles when the club has the cushion of public money in its coffers.

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