Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Supersti-Son in racing

Father Haresh Mehta lets son Manav lead in Beyond Stars (C Rajendra up) after a shock victory at 50 to 1 on Sunday at Mahalaxmi, along with trainer Cooji Katrak (left) [Pic: RS Gupta]

Racing and superstition go hand in hand. And it's quite understandable, really.

When millions of rupees in prize money is at stake (literally! the 2000 Guineas winner Jacqueline took home Rs 3.86 million on Sunday), and when a race can be won or lost by the breadth of a hair (Il Tabarro, winner of the MiD DAY Trophy, touched the wire one-hundredth of a second before runner up River Dragon did), horse owners have every reason to be superstitious and do things which they normally would not do in their routine business.

Take the case of Haresh Mehta, owner of Versaki, the 2000 Guineas favourite.

Mehta did not want to take any chances with his luck. So he got his son Manav (see photo above) to attend the races, because on the dozen occasions in the past when Manav had accompanied his dad to the races, they had always led in a winner!

Unfortunately, Versaki, unbeaten from six starts, failed to live up to his reputation, but that did not stop the Mehta father & son from leading in a winner. Immediately in the next race another horse owned by them, Beyond Stars, defied the huge odds of 50 to 1, and took everyone by surprise, including the Mehtas!

Interestingly, Manav Mehta is not the only child to get a winner for his dad. Our MiD DAY photo archives hold ample proof that more children have have led in winners with their parents in recent times.

Just the other day, there was Shapoor Mistry's son Pallon leading in Oasis Star with him. On Sunday, the youngest child in the Dhunjibhoy family, Anosha, was seen leading in Jacqueline, the 2000 Guineas winner, along with her parents and grandparents. Before that, Lyla Marker was seen leading in the Pune Derby winner trained by her father Cooji Katrak.

Do children really bring good luck to their parents in horse racing?

Vivek Jain, the newly elected chairman of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) Ltd, laughs it off as superstition, saying, "There is no end to this if you fall for it, so I don't encourage such irrational thoughts," although he candidly admits that the first time his daughter Shivantika got her friends to watch the Pune races two years ago, his filly Gobelin, a 20 to 1 longshot, caused a stunning upset and won the grade 1, Nanoli stud Pune Derby!

Some years ago, Captain Jamshed Appoo had sponsored a race in the name of his late uncle, Dara Godrej, who was extremely fond of Appoo's son Cyrus. So Appoo practically dragged Cyrus, who was not interested in racing one bit, to the racecourse to give away the trophy that carried his grandpa's name.

As luck would have it, a horse trained by Cooji Katrak and owned by Appoo himself, won the trophy at the odds of 10 to 1, and finally, in an impromptu arrangement, Appoo himself had to present the cup to son Cyrus. Ironically, the name of the horse was Rigged.

I also remember an incident when a yet-to-be born child brought good luck to his parents. More than two decades ago, film actress Rati Agnihotri had made a special appearance one Sunday at the Mahalaxmi racetrack, when she was only a week away from delivering her first child. She led in a winner owned by her husband Anil Virwani that was trained by Himmat Singh and was aptly named 'First Born'.

(c) MiD DAY

1 comment:

  1. Rudolph.A.FurtadoDec 23, 2009, 8:33:00 AM

    "SCIENCE IS STILL UNABLE TO EXPLAIN CERTAIN PHENOMENONS IN DAILY HUMAN LIVING"."SUPERSTITION", especially in "Chance Businesses or vocations" will always exist, irrespective of literacy or illiteracy.Some of our Politicians who have millions of people under their "Hypnotic speeches" and "Public Relations" are themselves victims of "SUPERSTITION"! The sport of "Horse-racing" is a "GAMBOLLING SPORT" where huge sums of money is either earned or lost in a span of a few minutes and hence one of the most superstitious sports of mankind.

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