Leading Indian jockey and trainer Pesi Shroff visits Royal Turf Club

Friday, 20 May 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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One of India’s foremost retired jockeys and now leading racehorse trainer Pesi Shroff, has paid a visit to the Royal Turf Club (RTC) Nuwara Eliya racecourse after he had heard the glowing reports surrounding the races conducted in April, which had been attended by racing enthusiasts from all over India.

After taking a look around the facilities at the racetrack Pesi Shroff, who has recorded 837 wins, 111 graded races (33 being grade 1 races), 39 classics, and was 8 times champion trainer in Mumbai and twice in Pune, was able to renew acquaintances with RTC Chief Executive Officer Wayne Wood. Wood had been the Chief Integrity Steward at the Royal Western India Turf Club where Shroff is based.

During their discussions, Shroff was pleased to hear that race day control at the RTC remains in the hands of Professional Stipendiary Stewards and that any person aggrieved by their decisions has the right to a second hearing via a Board of Appeal, further to which a licensee is entitled to legal representation at that stage. 

Shroff said he could see there was much potential for horse racing in Sri Lanka. He however conceded that he has a few horses suited to the track and will be giving some thought to the possibility of setting up a stable in Nuwara Eliya. He also said the fact that the club is giving prize money up until fifth place would be attractive to owners, especially when the size of the fields are taken into consideration.

 “The Royal Turf Club and the Race Course in Nuwara Eliya certainly have a bright future. It’s got the basics and the additional infrastructure being put into place as per their plans will lay a solid foundation which can then be the stepping stone or launching pad which will take things to a much higher level,” said Shroff.  “The passion, the determination and the will to make this succeed is what has really impressed me because, more than anything else, it’s the love for the game that has to be the driving force. What’s even better is that the RTC approach to the task could not have been better orchestrated. They have put in place the top professionals to captain their cause. Professionals who are not only equal to the task but share the same resolve and love for the Sport, and with that sort of driving force behind it I can visualise the Race Course at Nuwara Eliya coming into its own and graduating into a Racing Centre second to none.” 

A new state of the art Veterinary Hospital, qualified vets, a training track, and improved and additional stabling facilities will soon be in place, and will enable the RTC and racing in Sri Lanka to stage a comeback to those glorious days of past when the top horses and professionals had The Emerald Isle as a major port of call.

Pesi Shroff started out as a young Apprentice Jockey in 1981 under the auspices of the Royal Western India Turf Club. After riding his first winner astride a filly named My Squaw, in Pune, he carved for himself a veritable niche in the Archives of the Turf by booting home over 1700 more winners.  His rise to fame was truly meteoric. After he hung up his boots and retired as a jockey he took the art of training horses to even greater heights, establishing himself as the numero uno amongst Trainers in India. In a Sport where bloodlines are the name of the game, Pesi Shroff could well have been described as a blue blooded thoroughbred. 

He had to struggle in those early years before he came into his own, stamping his class by becoming one of the youngest ever to win the Blue Riband of The Indian Turf – THE INDIAN DERBY in 1984, on a horse named Enterprising.  As time progressed he would virtually make the Indian Derby his own, adding another 7 to his belt, taking the tally to 8, which is the record for the number of Indian Derbies ever won by a Jockey.

Never one to do things by halves, Shroff then made the transition from jockey to trainer with all the alacrity of Roger Federer changing his tennis racquet. He zoomed to the top and then had Dame Fortune smile on him as well who presented him with a Filly named Jaqueline that became the diva of the Indian Turf winning Classic after Classic.

The RTC hopes Pesi Shroff’s stamp of approval for augers well for the future of horseracing in Sri Lanka.