Mahalaxmi Musings and Maureen Wadia s race day - By Vivek Jain
Posted on - 10 Mar 2017
Mahalaxmi Musings and Maureen Wadia's race day
By Vivek Jain
The indefatigable energy of Maureen Wadia will once again shine brightly when the C N Wadia Gold Cup (Gr 2), is run on Sunday. The race day is known more for its burst of fashion and glamour and with a new focus on children, than the horses who traverse the Derby mile and a half for one of Western India's most sought after prizes.
Coming as it does just a week after the Invitation weekend, many top contenders would have run off in either the Invitation or the Stayers', and the race suffers due to its placement in the calendar. That six are still left in to contest the 1.5 million rupee purse must be considered fair in the circumstances and it remains an engaging race with Alaindair given another chance to redeem his reputation, somewhat sullied by his recent below par performances.
The irrepressible Maureen, who stage manages her day entirely herself, and a perfectionist to the core, will bring her famous Megamodel Manhunt and Mrs India contestants into the paddock, and which draws more selfies and camera clicks and pushing and shoving to get a glimpse of the two legged beauties than any race on our Turf, other than the Derby. And of late this is topped off by the Little Master and Miss Contest and a delightful children's dance which gets more whistles and applause than many other acts that we've seen on our race days. Having worked closely with Mrs Wadia for over a decade, I have to doff my hat for the zeal she shows and the attention to the smallest detail, to bring as big a day as any in tribute to Sir Cusrow Wadia, one of the legends of our Turf, and in whose honor the race day is run.
As an added attraction will be the Design One Stakes, in aid of the Sahachari Foundation, who will host the much looked forward to Design One Exhibt on March 15. This shopping extravaganza draws thousands of the most well heeled women of the city to our venue, who literally shop till they drop and the line up of a never ending serpentine of Mercs and Beamers are known to be a traffic nightmare for the Police. So much so we had to shift Design One to a non racing day. Yet in the end its all for a good cause with a huge donation for several good causes, including for our own Charities Fund.
The RWITC Committee at its meeting on Thursday enhanced the stakes pay out to 85% of advertised stakes for the remainder of the season, in recognition of the support shown by our owners in cutback of stakes. Post demonetization the stakes were cut by a whopping 50%, but with improved collections and a string of other measures we are doing our best to return to normalcy. If the bookmakers agree to take their stall fees to 100%, a return to normal stakes is possible sooner than we think.
On another issue, the low hanging fruit of the dispute with trainers on the Benevolent Fund issue appears to be making headway. After pleading with Dr Cyrus Poonawalla to intervene by WITA, and which saved the PBMM Day from possible disruption, the Committee deliberated on the matter and thought it was best this be resolved by the Committee of the Club. As two of the three Working Group members to handle the issue opted out, finally Geoffrey Nagpal came to our rescue by offering to talk to the trainers and bring about a closure. He will be assisted by veteran Shivlal Daga who knows more about rules and procedures than most in the Club. After a long hard look at all the issues involved, it will not take time now to bury the hatchet and move forward. Of course we remain thankful to Dr Poonawalla for offering his time and expertise to mediate, but that can wait for more serious matters.
Having been nominated by TAI to lead discussions on the impending GST issue, that will occupy most of my attention in the months ahead. Meetings have been requested with the Revenue Secretary, Government of India and Finance Secretary, Government of Maharashtra , to put forth the industry's case after our meeting with the H'ble Finance Minister of India, which has paved the way for further discussions. Though honored at the confidence reposed in me, it is an onerous responsibility and I will not be failing in my duty to see it through to fruition.