The turf war at the Mahalaxmi racecourse seems to be heading for a nail-biting finish as a no-holds barred campaign has been unleashed by both the Vivek Jain and Khushroo Dhunjibhoy factions for the election to the committee of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) that will be held on December 16.
Even as Khushroo Dhunjibhoy held a press conference on Thursday to showcase his group's vision for the future of racing, the Jain faction attempted to deal a severe blow to Dhunjibhoy himself, by moving a resolution to draft a showcause notice asking Dhunjibhoy why action should not be taken against him for employing a warned off person named Umed Singh at his Nanoli stud farm.
SUNDAY mid-day learns from sources that the matter will come up for discussion in a RWITC committee meeting scheduled after today's races.When contacted, Khushroo Dhunjibhoy confirmed that he had received communication to that effect.
"I am really shocked. I knew they (Jain group) were getting desperate as their unjust actions in the Pesi Shroff case were coming back to haunt them, but I never could imagine they would stoop to this level. It just goes to show that they know the writing is on the wall, and they want to try anything to stop me from contesting the elections," he said.
When asked how he was planning to counter this move, Dhunjibhoy said, "Let them fire the showcause notice, they will get a fitting reply first from me, and then by the members of the club on the 16th."
Umed Singh was a farrier (one who shoes the hooves of horses), working at the RIWTC who was warned off after the infamous Knight N Day scandal in 1990's when a horse by that name had died, and following an enquiry, he was warned off by the RWITC stewards.
However, he was later employed at Nanoli stud farm for some years until his services were terminated by the farm. Recently, his name also figured among the people arrested by Mumbai crime branch in connection with the Bullseye doping case when he was arrested in February this year and was released on bail later.
Rule 207(c) under which Dhunjibhoy is likely to be issued the show cause notice states: "If any owner or trainer, unless with the special permission of the Stewards of the club, employs a disqualified person during the term of his disqualification, such owner or trainer may be fined or warned off the course."
When contacted, Vivek Jain admitted the development was true, and that the matter would come up for discussion in today's meeting. However, Jain categorically distanced himself from the move, saying, "I have already made it clear I will have nothing to do with anything that concerns either Nanoli stud farm or Mr Khushroo Dhunjibhoy, and I stand by my decision."