Mumbai: Irish jockey checks out of hotel, leaves city abruptly

Updated: Feb 27, 2020, 07:51 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Jockey checks out from Mumbai accommodation at midnight without informing hotel; silent about abrupt departure

Jockey Leigh Roche. Pic/R S Gupta
Jockey Leigh Roche. Pic/R S Gupta

Racing circles are abuzz with the news that Leigh Roche, a well-known Irish jockey, contracted to ride for ace trainer Pesi Shroff, left Mumbai abruptly on the midnight of February 17, without informing him. He allegedly also did not inform the front desk of the swanky Tardeo hotel where he was given accommodation by Shroff through his stay in Mumbai.

An email communication from the hotel to Indian racing's most high-profile professional, Mumbai's Pesi Shroff, a copy of which is with mid-day states: 'This is to inform you that Leigh Roche has left the hotel with all his belongings without informing the reception staff, midnight on 17.02.2020.

As per your instruction regarding the billing you mentioned in the below-mail that he will be settling his bill from 03.02.2020 which includes room stay and extras, same was informed to the guest at front desk and to that he agreed to pay upon the entire bill (room stay from 03.02.2020 plus extras) But it came to our knowledge that Mr. Roche has left at midnight without settling his room stay from 03.02.20 and extras. Above are attachment of Mr. Roche's room stay from the day he checked in until 18.02.20 & extras.

Kindly guide us for the billing instructions as we need to close this as soon as possible.'The hotel refused to confirm or deny the communication saying they are not supposed to reveal "any data about guests."

Champion trainer Pesi Shroff
Champion trainer Pesi Shroff

Shroff was wary about divulging details claiming, "an inquiry is on in the matter, and I cannot speak." He did confirm though that Roche was riding for him. A controversy erupted on February 1 when an angry Shroff accused Roche of not riding a mount trained by him, satisfactorily. Shroff told Roche that he could no longer ride for him. That is when they had a 'verbal agreement' in front of the hotel desk, that Roche would clear his own bill henceforth for his accommodation. Till then, Shroff was footing the accommodation bill as is the rule, when a foreign jockey or a jockey from outside Mumbai is contracted to ride for certain trainer-owners.

Goodbye Mumbai
According to the email communication, Roche upped and went in the dark of night, without informing the hotel. It has been learnt that the outstanding bill is in the region of R2.5 lakh, though with both the hotel and Shroff reluctant to speak, this could not be verified. A source said that Shroff is livid, not at the amount of money which he will pay, but the fact that Roche did not honour his commitment and left without informing anybody at the hotel.

The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) officials prevaricated when asked if they had received the hotel communication about Roche. "We may have got it. I do not know. Maybe, it (the email) has come from some unknown account," an official said. A professional told this reporter, "Keep me out of this."

Another club official claimed, "According to procedure, Pesi Shroff has to foot the bill, as Leigh Roche was his jockey. We cannot comment further. We can only confirm that there was an inquiry about his riding and the matter is sub-judice."

Questions rule
La affaire Leigh Roche started on February 1 when the stewards of the club (stewards of racing clubs oversee race meetings to ensure fair and clean racing) started an inquiry into the riding of two fancied horses. One of those inquiries was about Roche's riding atop the Pesi Shroff trained horse Valegro. The stewards viewed the charges of 'unsatisfactory riding' and concluded he was guilty, resulting in a 12-day suspension for Roche. He decided not to appeal the suspension using the Board of Appeals. Roche did not respond to numerous calls seeking his side of the story. He responded by WhatsApp message saying, "I have no comments."

17 Feb
When Leigh Roche left Mumbai at midnight

Inputs by Prakash Gosavi

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