Parsis rule Mahalaxmi Racecourse
The nine-race card yesterday at Mahalaxmi, which featured a record eight "million" races sponsored by Parsi luminaries was, incidentally, dominated by professionals from the same community as seven of the nine races had at least one Parsi connected with the winner either as owner, trainer, jockey or breeder.
Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, former chairman of the race club and chief sponsor of the World Zorastrian Congress, was also in luck as Elite Model, owned by him through a syndicate named after his late wife Villoo, prevailed in a blanket finish to win the Darashaw Million, one of the main races of the day.
The members’ enclosure at the Mahalaxmi racecourse sported a vintage look as over a thousand delegates who had come from all parts of the world to attend the Zorastrian Congress in city, descended onto the lawns dressed in traditional Parsi attire.
“It was a very satisfying show,” Dr Poonawalla said in an interview, “The World Zorastrian Congress was significant for us because it came back to the city after a gap of 23 years, and we are honoured the honourable president of India personally came down to inaugurate the event.”
On the racetrack, trainer Pesi Shroff was the star Parsi professional, winning the Villoo Poonawalla Foundation Million with first-timer Adam, and the grade 3, A C Ardeshir Trophy with Master Shifu. Both his winners were ridden by Trevor Patel who shared the day’s riding honours with B Sreekanth who rode Dr Ramaswamy’s Patriot (Nanoli Stud Million) and Be Safe (Zorastrian Multimillion) to victory.
The day was dominated by rank outsiders which yielded astronomical dividends in most races, and also caused both super jackpot (Rs 13 lakh) and jackpot (Rs 14 lakh) pools getting carried over as there was not a single successful ticket.
Ironically, the day’s biggest upsets were also caused by horses trained by three Parsi professionals — Hormuz Antia, Cooji Katrak and Don Surti —who sent out shock winners in 15/1 Heatwave, 20/1 Montreal and 13/1 Nigella respectively.