Mathaiyus, a four-year-old horse trained by Pesi Shroff, could not keep his date with the biggest race of his career—the Indian Derby—because he was adjudged "lame", and was withdrawn from the fray moments before the start.
Expressing shock and surprise over the decision, Pesi Shroff, said, "I asked Ghulam Vahanvaty, chairman of stewards, Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), who had authorized the withdrawal of my horse in a race like the Indian Derby? He said he didn't know." Shroff added,
"Later I was told he (Mathaiyus) put his hind leg on the platform, which is fine, many horses do that, you can't withdraw a horse due to that." Breeder Ameeta Mehra, owner, Usha stud farm, said she was "appalled" by what happened. "I was told the starter said Mathaiyus was lame and that's why it was withdrawn," Ameeta said, "the first thing I decided was to come here (Shroff's stable) and check the horse myself." Ameeta added, "I would like an inquiry to understand the reason to withdraw the horse, there is no clarity. If they can do it today to a prospective horse who could have won the Indian Derby, tomorrow they can do it to any other horse." She added, "This is the Indian Derby, and he was the only true stayer, and we have been preparing this horse for this race, and then to have this happen is just appalling," Ameeta signed off on a note of disgust.
Ghulam Vahanvaty, though stated, "The horse Mathaiyus was taken into the stall or starting gate. As is common practice, the jockey has to stand on the rests (platform) on either side of the starting gate. Mathaiyus put his right hind leg on the platform.
He was brought out and trotted. Senior Veterinary Officer (VO) Dr S K Kulkarni declared him fit. He was put in the starting gate again but he repeated his action. This time, Mathaiyus had to be brought out with a lot trouble, actually pulled by his tail. The senior VO exercised abundant caution and decided to withdraw him. We are totally satisfied with the decision." Vivek Jain, RWITC chairman said, "I know the decision to withdraw the horse from the race was absolutely fair and correct."
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