Never before in the history of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), has the annual elections to the managing committee generated as much heat as this year with accusations and counter accusations being exchanged between the two warring groups — one led by current chairman Vivek Jain, and the other by his arch rival KN Dhunjibhoy.
The controversy took a new turn with the Bullseye doping case which, in the light of new evidence in the form of police witness Deepak Popat's testimony and recorded conversation with Shroff's rival trainer Cooji Katrak, almost looks like a conspiracy to frame the star trainer along with owner Dhunjibhoy.
Dhunjibhoy spoke to mid-day on the issue.
Excerpts from an interview:
The timing of Popat's press note and leakage of the tapes only days before the election are a remarkable coincidence. Your comment...
Popat's lawyer has already made it clear why Popat was obliged to release the tapes. In any case, according to me, the members need to know as much information as possible about the Bullseye case so that they can form their own opinion about the infamous attempt to malign Pesi Shroff and my reputation.
Why have you and your trainers mostly figured in drug positive cases in recent years?
This is precisely the question. Not a single racing horse owned by me has come positive except Eloise three years back which was traced to the feed supplied by RWITC. The rest were all horses returning from the farm and this clearly shows that they were being got at to spoil my reputation. Nobody is foolish to send a medicated horse back, when everybody is aware that all such horses are compulsorily tested as soon as they arrive at the race course.
Why did you initially hide the fact that you had lodged a criminal complaint against Vivek Jain with the police?
Since mine was a criminal complaint, I had no obligation to inform the stewards.
How come all these conversations were being recorded?
This is not a relevant question as I haven't played any part in it. Popat has been a regular race-goer for over 30 years and I'm told he was in the habit of recording conversations. The question is why Cooji Katrak contacted Popat, and who instigated Katrak to get these false affidavits.
"This tape is shocking and disgusting. Horse racing is a lovely sport. It’s sad that it’s reduced to this. All, from top to bottom, must be investigated and prosecuted."