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Top guns here, show image of Indian racing is intact - By Shailendra Awasthi I TNN

Posted on - 08 Dec 2013

Top guns here, show image of Indian racing is intact
By Shailendra Awasthi I TNN 

Mumbai: The claims by some racing authorities across the globe, including the UK-based Professional Jockey Association, that the ‘race-fixing’ CD and the British Horseracing Authority’s refusal to reciprocate the Indian ban on jockey Martin Dwyer had spoiled the image of Indian racing and that top international jockeys would be reluctant to visit Mumbai this winter, have proved wrong. 

    The arrival of top international saddle artists at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse on Sunday clearly shows that the image of the sport in this part of the world is alive and kicking. One of the most sought after jockeys in the world, Frenchman Olivier Peslier, and leading Irishman Jimmy Fortune showed off their skills to the delight of racing fans on Sunday. While Peslier failed to guide Mesmeric to victory, Fortune steered Nefyn to thumping win. 

    “I had heard a few things but my friends Samuel Fargeat and Christophe Lemaire told me that I must visit India,” 40-year-old Peslier told TOI on Sunday. “I must say the Mahalaxmi Racecourse is a beautiful place. It is flat and its longhome stretch provides every one an opportunity,” added the man who has won more than 100 Group 1 races across the globe. Peslier is here to ride for Shyam Ruia, chairman of stewards, Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC). 

    Fortune, a well-known face at the Mahalaxmi racecourse says he is not bothered by the talk of Indian racing taking a beating. “These things never crossed my mind as I have al ways loved riding in India. It’s a great place for racing and I certainly enjoy riding here,” said the Irishman, who had come to India last year after a gap of 11 years and landed a thumping win in the Indian Derby through Super Storm. 

    RWITC chairman Khushroo Dhunjibhoy says the talk of negative image of Indian racing was just a gim mick by certain people who were trying to malign Indian horse racing. “I was in Europe recently and spoke to many racing people and found that they appreciated our stand on the CD issue,” Dhunjibhoy said. “We always had a system in place for healthy racing which is borne out by the ar rival of top jockeys. Even top British jockey Richard Hughes will arrive in few days to ride my horses.”

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