One of the dark chapters of Bangalore Turf Club was the charge against certain racehorse owners who were Stewards of blatant manipulation and changing the results on flimsy objections or Suo moto Stewards enquiry to suit theirs and partners` betting interest. After a series of dubious decisions, the Karnataka Government stepped in and asked the turf club to amend the Articles of Association to ban racehorse owning members from becoming Stewards. The turf club did not pay heed initially but after 55 days of no license, was forced to amend the Articles. This was in the year1985.
The turf club`s reputation was at an all-time low and the Karnataka government even wanted to hand over racing to Racing Board appointed by it. The then chairman of the Bangalore Turf Club Venugopal Naidu was removed by the special meeting of the managing committee in February 1987 as he was doing things to favour a government takeover. P G Belliappa replaced him as the Chairman. Belliappa was successful in giving a new direction and weather the storm thanks to the extensive help given by the media.
There is a link from the past to the present. Venugopal Naidu`s son Harimohan is the current chairman of the club. The club is facing a severe crisis of leadership, with the reputation of the club at an all-time low. Allegations of impropriety have been flying thick and fast. The turf club is taking actions like removing staffers without as much as a notice violating human rights and principles of natural justice and fair play. There is strife all around. Licenses are being denied to trainers without any reason and people believe Naidu could well be the poorest chairman that the club has seen. Unfortunately, he has managed to hold on to the seat even though he doesn`t seem to enjoy a majority in the committee.
There is another disastrous link to the past in the form of A C Satish Chandra who is currently on the committee which is guilty of taking several controversial decisions, disregarding acceptable norms of a civilised society. He is seen regularly interacting with a couple of trainers in the morning. Many believe he is playing the role of a racing manager for certain interests. There is also a belief that he could also be owning shares in these horses going by his involvement. If one were to track his actions, one could get to see his continuous calling of trainers with whom he reportedly has horses. Being a Steward, he should not be seen acting as a racing manager because he would be compromising his job of being an all-powerful Steward especially since he appears to have the majority in the committee with half of its members being his nominees through back door entry.
Interestingly, the horse which caused horse owning club members to be banned as Stewards were triggered by the horse (Govardhan) owned in partnership by Satish Chandra.
The old-timers readily recall the incident which happened on February 2, 1985. Two horses namely Govardhan and Certain Smile contested in a race which was won by the latter in convincing fashion. Following an objection, the Stewards gave the race to Govardhan which received widespread condemnation. Certain Smile, in the hands of jockey Warren Singh, won start to finish while Govardhan made a futile chase and lost by a length. There was an allegation that it was done to suit the betting interests of powerful Stewards and their partners. The then police commissioner of Bangalore Harlankar who was known as a tough taskmaster ordered an enquiry to go into the incident to find out if the Stewards took the decision to suit the betting interests. His report to the government was damning. The news was front-paged in Indian Express and appeared in National magazines like Indian Today. (The India Today story is carried elsewhere to give a clear perspective of what transpired at that time). Harlankar had recommended that the race owning Stewards were manipulating races and were indulging in undesirable practices and that they should be banned from holding responsible positions. The integrity of the sport was heavily compromised, he had said.
After the amendment, those who wanted to become Stewards either gave up owning horses or kept shares of horses in other people names so that they could enjoy the best of both worlds. Satish Chandra is morally disqualified from holding a responsible position as he was the owner of Govardhan for whom the race was awarded in blatant disregard of all acceptable norms.
Since Satish Chandra is seen acting as a racing manager if not having shares in the horses, he should come out clean and not associate with any trainer. He should not be seen interacting with the trainers and going to the starting gate when these horses are running in a race. He should do everything to ensure that he is above board. Or best, resign as a steward and enjoy being a racehorse owner. He cannot be hoping to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Satish Chandra was part owner of the horse who benefitted by the action of the Stewards. The incident subsequently had serious repercussions on the sport and the guilt of the connections was established by a police enquiry resulting in the banning of racehorse owners from becoming stewards, he should face the same action as the one he is proposing on the owners of Queen Latifa. I hope the members take note of this dark chapter of BTC racing and ask Satish Chandra to quit.