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Another loss for horse-racing - By Usman Rangeela I Mirror

Posted on - 06 Mar 2012

Another loss for horse-racing

By Usman Rangeela 
 
    We all know that life can be ironic at times and, as the American science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein said, hardly anyone gets out of it alive. It was no different when the horse-racing fraternity learnt about trainer Bal Krishna aka Bal Lagad’s death last fortnight. Lagad’s end came at the age of 84 after a brief illness in Bangalore. 

    Death snatched away another doyen in the art of training thoroughbred horses even before the news of Dady Adenwalla’s loss could sink in. Lagad was a contemporary of Adenwalla along side whom he took lessons of horsetraining from late Major KP Jadhav, trainer MK Jadhav’s father. 

    Throughout his career, Lagad’s presence remained largely understated on the race-track even when horses like Royal Tern, Royal Song and Tulipa fetched glory for his owners. 
 
 
A rare photograph of late Dady Adenwalla (L), late Maj. KP Jadhav and late BK Lagad during the apprenticeship days of the two young lads

GROOMING DAYS 

Entering the field of horse-racing was not a matter of chance for Lagad. His uncle KP Jadhav trained horses owned by the Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia of Gwalior and young Lagad naturally came into contact with the equine athletes in Pune when he arrived for higher studies from Gwalior. 

But his fondness for the steeds then was limited to riding till he went on graduate in law. 

However, Lagad chose not to don the black robe and took a plunge into the sport and never regretted it.
Lagad, after spending his initial days in Delhi, got a major break when MP Davis, an influential owner down south, appointed him as his private trainer in the mid-50s. He had prolific success at Madras, Ooty, and Bangalore and later in Calcutta too. Scone Stone was the horse which made Lagad famous in those days. 

However, Lagad was suddenly rendered out of action in the late 50s by the South India Turf Club (SITC) authorities after his horse tested positive for Thiamine, which essentially is a vitamin. He fought a pitched legal battle with the SITC to prove his innocence and emerged victorious after 13 years. Still his troubles were far from over. 

Since the SITC had been disbanded before the formation of the Turf Authorities of India, Lagad had nowhere to go for seeking a training license afresh.
 
TURNING A NEW LEAF 

Fortunately, Lagad’s mentor KP Jadhav, before heeding to owner RM Goculdas’s request to retire in 1971, insisted that the horses under his charge be transferred to his nephew. Goculdas not only agreed to Jadhav’s suggestion but also helped Lagad procure a license at the RWITC. 

Lagad gradually became known for his discipline, dedication and integrity during his three-decade long association with the Goculdas family. He surrendered his license in 2000. During his career Lagad trained the famous champion horse Royal Tern, ridden by late Karl Umrigar, for the Goculdas family. 
 
Trainer BK Lagad seen with Royal Tern when the latter took final bow at the Mahalaxmi Race Course

Lagad however didn’t retire from his profession. He went to Sri Lanka on a private assignment briefly and on his return Pesi Shroff entrusted him with the responsibility of looking after his horses in Calcutta. 

Lagad spent his last days with former jockey Murad’s family, which sheltered him when the SITC left him in the lurch by withdrawing his license and also in the years to come. 

Religion was never a barrier between Murad’s family and Lagad who, over the years, was bonded by affection to them. Lagad breathed his last at Murad’s residence which was his home for years though on and off.

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