Mumbai: Slow going under the hammer in first half of auction at Mahalaxmi Racecourse

Feb 13, 2018, 17:35 IST | Prakash Gosavi

The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) auction of two-year-old horses that was expected to make waves, returning to Mumbai after a gap of 20 years saw a fairly muted start at the Mahalaxmi racecourse paddock

The auction in progress; Auctioneer Cyrus Madan
The auction in progress; Auctioneer Cyrus Madan

The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) auction of two-year-old horses that was expected to make waves, returning to Mumbai after a gap of 20 years saw a fairly muted start at the Mahalaxmi racecourse paddock on Monday evening.

Wields the hammer
Wields the hammer

The unexpected low-key response dampened the spirits of horse breeders from all over India who have put up 114 horses on display for the two-day sale, which will end today (Tuesday) late evening. The opening session saw only a handful of horses coming under the hammer, while most were "bought in", a term that means they were not even bid the minimum reserve price set by the sellers, and hence could not be sold.

The bay colt Lot No 14 by Usha Stud Farm
The bay colt Lot No 14 by Usha Stud Farm

"I think the auction has come too soon after the Derby," trainer S Padmanabhan, who won two Indian Derbies back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, tried to explain away the lukewarm early response. He added, "Those who were busy with the Indian Derby last Sunday and Bangalore Derby this Sunday haven't had the time to check out the horses. That could be one major reason."

"I have done most of my purchases at the farms already ," trainer Narendra Lagad, who bid for close to R5,00,000 for a horse before opting out, said, "but if I find something interesting, I will be a serious bidder." "It was actually a great move to shift the auction back to Mumbai," Anil Mukhi, pedigree expert who has been in the bloodstock business for 38 years, told mid-day, lauding the race club's effort and vision, "and they tried to make a good job of it, but perhaps more promotion was required."

Anil Mukhi, S Padmanabhan and Narendra Lagad, trainer
Anil Mukhi, S Padmanabhan and Narendra Lagad, trainer

"There is just no buying culture here," Ameeta Mehra, owner of Usha stud farm, minced no words when making her point. Incidentally, it was lot number 14, a colt by Speaking Of Which out of Amorina, bred by Ameeta which set the bar high when Shiven Surendranath paid R14 lakh for the bay colt. "This, shifting the sales back to Mumbai after two decades, is an experiment, and we are learning from the feedback," Khushroo Dhunjibhoy, chairman of the race club, told mid-day. "It's only the first session, so maybe it's a bit early to draw conclusions."

"I don't know about the others, but I have short-listed about half a dozen horses," trainer SK Sunderji, who won the Indian Derby with Rochester a week ago, said, "and I am certainly going to bid for them."

Catch up on all the latest Mumbai, National and International news here

Download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get updates on all the latest and trending stories on the go

Trending Video

First ever night racing at Mahalaxmi racecourse