Zavaray Poonawalla wins Royal Western India Turf Club election

Updated: Sep 12, 2019, 07:50 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Zavaray Poonawalla wins election, stresses on bringing club out of dire financial straits

Voting on at Worli venue
Voting on at Worli venue

Zavaray Poonawalla won the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) election held at the Nehru Centre in Worli on Wednesday, though the e-voting had closed earlier. Zavaray, who secured 836 votes, will now be club chairman. An elated Zavaray said he had returned to the fold (he was chairman four years ago) to save the club, and stressed on GST reforms as the way to pull the club out of what he called a, "precarious financial state". "We will also have to work to bring the bookmakers (currently there are three in Mumbai) back to the turf," he added.

Vivek Jain, who polled the highest number of votes for quite a few years, finished last among the 11 contestants, competing for the nine-member committee. Jain, who was contesting as Independent, garnered 511 votes.

Zavaray Poonawalla, winner. Pics/Sneha Kharabe
Zavaray Poonawalla, winner. Pics/Sneha Kharabe

The result was a shocker as the margin of defeat was also significant. The second last finisher beat Jain by over 100 votes. Before the election, the contenders were split into two camps — Team Zavaray, all of whom won their place in the committee, and Team Khushroo Dhunjibhoy. Sunil Jhangiani from Dhunjibhoy's team finished penultimate, and will not find a place on the committee.

At the Annual General Meeting (AGM), veteran racing enthusiast Adil Gandhy took to the dais to addressing the audience, saying, "This is a grave situation for the club and we have so many challenges ahead. It is time you all work in harmony."

Before the results, Zavaray had repeatedly pointed out that the club has R10 crore in its kitty and Dhunjibhoy's claim of having R56 crore in mutual funds and banks "is misleading because the club owes R64 crore in liabilities, which needs to be taken into account." said Zavaray.

The Poonawallas, Zavaray and his high-profile brother Cyrus, were seen spending some 'we' time at a restaurant adjacent to the voting venue, ahead of the announcement of results. Speaking about the general atmosphere of fear among members about the dipping fortunes of this once apex club of Western India racing, Cyrus said, "It is not a question of survival, it is a question of revival. We have to bring the club back to its previous glory days," he added.

All the concerns, though, took a backseat as Team Zavaray celebrated the victory. A bottle of Champagne was popped as Zavaray thanked his well wishers and those who voted for him, and said, they "are looking for a new era in racing."

Zenia Lawyer, who polled second with 796 votes, admitted that it is going to be very tough going, but with Zavaray at the helm, "I do not think he will let the club fall." The two places on the Board of Appeal were won by Hoshang Nazir (778) and Dilip Goculdas (753). Darashaw Mehta was in third place (691).


Zavaray Poonawalla (836)
Zenia Lawyer (796)
Geoffrey Nagpal (745)
Khushroo Dhunjibhoy (742)
Surendra Sanas (739)
Milan Luthria (732)
Jaydev Mody (698)
Ram Shroff (686)
Vijay Shirke (685)
Sunil Jhangiani (676)
Vivek Jain (511)
Total No of Votes: 1382
E-voting: 1203
Physical voting: 179

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