In what he later termed as “my luckiest break”, providence virtually handed him, on a platter, an opportunity to win the Governor’s Gold Cup, one of the premier events of Sunday’s eight-race card.
It was purely a chance ride that came Joy Chinoy’s way because S Zervan, originally engaged to ride the winning mount Zakynthos, was declared indisposed after the third race on the card. Joy was then asked by trainer Pesi Shroff to ride the horse which Pesi also owns along with his wife Tina. The replacement rider then made no mistake in steering the 5-to-1 shot to a thrilling victory over stable mate Senora Bella.
Winning the prestigious event not only enabled him to open his account for the season, but also gave him the greatest high of his riding career when the honourable Governor of Maharashtra, Mr K Sankaranarayan, who was present along with his wife to witness the race named after his office, shook hands with him and appreciated the winning effort.
“I still can’t believe my good luck,” Joy later told MiD DAY, “I am extremely grateful to Pesi Sir for putting his trust in me and giving this opportunity. I badly needed some lucky break, I just hope things will start looking up for me now.”
That last sentence hints at a painful fact of life for this young man who had a dream start to his career as a 17-year-old when he notched up 26 winners in the 2001-02 Mahalaxmi season to bag the champion apprentice crown, but later got relegated to the sidelines so completely, that he is yet to cross even the century mark after 12 long years in the riding profession.
“Yes, I had a dream start,” he went on as if speaking to himself, “but that was also due to Pesi Sir. He was himself riding then, and he took personal interest in me and tutored me when I was apprenticed to (Jaggi) Dhariwal Sir.”
What then changed so suddenly to derail his career? “I must blame only myself,” Joy explained, “I got a four-month suspension, and I just couldn’t handle that. I was extremely depressed, and completely lost interest in the whole thing. It took quite some time for me to get my my mind back on the job, and my career back on track.”
Joy now tries to ride every mount that comes his way, and do full justice to it. “I even go to Delhi if I am offered a ride,” he said matter-of-factly. How far is he from the 100-win mark now? “With today’s win, I have moved on to 84,” he says, smiling, with a twinkle in his eye, “I just hope my luck continues the same way and I get more live mounts, it will not take too long.”