Tuesday, March 23, 2010

BTC has no sympathizers

In a country where even squatters occupying slums often get stay on demolition orders when they seek relief in courts, the decision of the Karnataka high court asking the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) to vacate the racecourse land within six months has jolted the racing fraternity.

It has also sent alarm bells ringing for the elite Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) Ltd who are in a similarly precarious situation, sitting atop 226 acres of government land in the heart of Mumbai, with the lease coming up for renewal in three years' time (2013).

However, the racing fraternity's initial reaction of shock and disbelief is fast giving way to anger and disgust at the way the BTC committee handled the whole affair right from the day they were first put on notice by the Karnataka state government.

Flatly refusing to discuss the issue of alternate land offered by the government, accusing elected chairman to be the stooge of the government and dumping him unceremoniously, going the legal way despite being warned by eminent senior lawyers that the club's stand had no merit, and finally topping this all by "digging up" a paper from 'archives' that claimed the land was given to BTC by the Maharaja of Mysore in 1915, and the state government had no right to take it way--all smacked of immaturity, lack of home work and absence of a game plan to counter issue of such serious magnitude.

More unpardonable were BTC's profligate ways all these years which squandered all the money they made from their wonderful tote, put in place by former BTC chairman PG Beliappa. About fifteen years ago, Beliappa's foresighted efforts saw the club's gross revenues jumping from a mere Rs 12 crore annually to over 1,000 crore in a span of only 5 years after reduction in betting taxes.

The subsequent BTC committees however never bothered to save money but squandered it all on loading lavish gifts and freebies onto members and their families. I was shocked when I discovered first-hand during one of my trips to Bangalore that the BTC members not only used to feast on free lunches on racing days, but were allowed to take the food home for other family members! No wonder, the club could never put aside the money for a rainy day, despite the Tote virtually turning out to be the proverbial hen laying golden eggs.

By voting for a bankrupt future with their wanton ways, the BTC has not only cut short their own life, but also put in jeopardy the whole racing industry because for every race club, another club's racing activity is a major source of profit thanks to the system of off-course betting where a guest club can operate their tote with minimal expenses.

RWITC chairman Vivek Jain's concern in this connection (MiD DAY, March 23) is quite valid as Bangalore races were extremely popular at Mahalaxmi, and besides, Jain and his committee will also have to now apply their mind on how to react to the possible future influx of horses and professionals from the southern premium center which will find itself without a racecourse six months from now, unless the Supreme court gives some relief to the BTC.

With the sword of Damocles--RWITC's own lease expiring in 2013--hanging over their own head, it's sure going to be testing times ahead for Jain and his team.

(c) MiD DAY
Pic: Racingpulse.in


  1. Shameless btc. They put eveyone in soup.

  2. Vivek Jain should allow only good trainers like Padmanabhan, N. Darashah and Arjun Manglorkar. Some Bombay trainers like N. Raghunath, Anil kumar, D. Pillai should be asked to vacate stables. Bombay can now afford to have quality racing thanks to BTC fiasco.


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