The world of horse racing was jolted yesterday when racingpulse.in, an Indian horse racing website, published a sensational letter written by the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) chairman Vivek Jain to his colleagues on the committee and stewards.
KN Dhunjibhoy, RWITC chairman Vivek Jain and Trainer Pesi Shroff
In the letter, Jain expresses severe displeasure about the “behind the scene moves” (sic) initiated by former chairman KN Dhunjibhoy and champion trainer Pesi Shroff, “who is under investigation by the Stewards” (sic) on account of his horse Bulls Eye testing positive for banned substance boldenone, and dubbed the same as “an attempt to influence regulatory and other agencies to get the enquiry deferred” (sic).
Jain wrote: “I received a call from Mrs Maneka Gandhi, barely an hour before the Stewards enquiry on February 24th, proposing the hearing be deferred as she will be asking Maj Gen Kharb to appoint a Committee to go into the Boldenone finding in Bullseye.”
Jain confirmed to mid-day that he had written the letter. “The stewards must be allowed to function in a free and fair manner, the intimidatory tactics employed by the defendant are unprecedented and unacceptable.”
It may be recalled that Bulls Eye, a Shroff-trained filly, was found positive for banned anabolic steroid Boldenone when she was tested after arrival to RWITC’s sampling yard on December 6 last year, less than 24 hours after she left owner KN Dhunjibhoy’s Nanoli stud farm near Lonavala, where she was tested and certified “clean” by Bhagwati Analytical Lab, Hyderabad.
As per the recent changes in notification approved by the Turf Authorities Of India (TAI), which were supposed to take retrospective effect from November 2013, Shroff was in danger of being banned for two years for the alleged finding though, technically, Bulls Eye had not even entered his stables when she was tested on the RWITC premises.
The incident created a sense of deja vu for trainer Shroff and owner Dhunjibhoy as three horses, under identical circumstances (coming from Nanoli farm to RWITC), were found positive for Boldenone in August 2011. Dhunjibhoy, in a recent complaint letter to Maj Gen (Retd) Dr Kharb, Chairman of Animal Welfare Board of India, has alleged that the fact that those three horses were coming to his other trainer Shyam Habbu, and not to trainer Pesi Shroff, was perhaps not known to the alleged perpetrators of this crime because the horses were originally meant for Shroff, but for some reason, Dhunjibhoy had changed his mind at the last minute and directed them to Habbu, who then had to face the punishment awarded by the RWITC stewards for vicarious liability.
With this background, an alarmed Shroff had recently lodged a criminal complaint against “unknown enemies” with the Mumbai Crime Branch. Four persons, including a farrier Umed Singh, who earlier worked for trainer Cooji Katrak and later at the Nanoli farm, were arrested and later released on bail.
“This whole thing stinks,” KN Dhunjibhoy told mid-day. “There is clearly a devious design to this whole murky affair, and I hope it will come to light now that an independent body like Animal Welfare Board will be investigating it,” he added. Trainer Pesi Shroff could not be reached.