By Usman Rangeela

Shortly after two horses from trainers Bezan Chenoy and Magansingh Jodha’s yard tested positive for banned drug substances during a round of random sampling carried out by RWITC authorities, three horses trained by Altamash Ahmed have now reportedly failed the drug test.

The three horses which tested positive for Stanazolol were Alaindair, An Acquired Taste and Astapi who had arrived after a summering spell at the stabling facility of a riding school situated inside the Talegaon Stud Farm. Just for the record, Alaindair, An Acquired Taste and Astapi are group race winners including the Indian Derby 2014, the Indian St Leger 2013 and the Stayer’s Cup 2014 and 2015 respectively.

The usual script will now play out at RWITC starting with the trainers having an option to get the confirmatory samples tested and later providing mitigating circumstances to prove their innocence, which has been a daunting task for all professionals. Also, since all the five horses fall into the category of out-of-competition/training testing, the RWITC authorities’ approach will come under intense scrutiny.

Discretion demand

One related issue which has caused grave concern to the owners of the five horses in question is the new medication rule, as adopted by the Turf Authorities of India and which has come into effect at RWITC on August 1. The rule specifies a sixmonth ban for a horse that tests positive for any drug falling in the “proscribed” list and also says “the said horse shall be removed from the premises of the club.”

Without questioning the club’s obligation of enforcing its zero-tolerance policy towards the use of banned drug substances, the owners feel that the stewards’ body should use its discretion on a caseto-case basis and decide whether it’s justified to make the horse and its owner suffer the adverse consequences of any judgment against the professional.

While at it, the recently modified medication rules at RWITC gives an appearance of a document shoddily compiled with “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” by a bunch of amateurs with inadequate knowledge of veterinary science.

Vocal resentment

Punters and turf club members were taken aback on finding Jiyaji Bhosale, a nominated steward, in the chair to adjudicate on the objection lodged by the jockey of runner-up Royal Salute against winner Adam on Sunday. He was assisted by two co-opted stewards, Champaklal Zaveri and Gautam Lala. Thankfully, the objection was overruled and there were no controversies.

Unable to reconcile with this event, a senior club member fumed over the mess the club finds itself in mainly due to the politics of one-upmanship between two warring groups and their associates. He made his resentment known to a committee member saying, “I have had enough of this nonsense that’s going at our club. I think it’s time for me to stop coming to races henceforth.”

This member may have gone home thinking that he had hit the nail on the head but he hardly knows that so long there exist members who don’t share his feelings or aren’t aware of the club being in dire straits, it would be business as usual for the administrators. A similar opinion of a large section of the racegoers is always taken for granted thus contributing towards RWITC’s rot.