Handicappers intrigued by Pesi Shroff move
Let me begin by first explaining that one of the meanings of the word 'handicapper' is 'someone who believes that it is possible to equalize performances of two racehorses of differing ability by assigning relatively higher handicap (read 'weight on a horse's back) to the better horse of the two. In that sense, each serious student of form--including the official Handicapper of a race club whose job is to try and equalize the chances of competing horses by assigning them different weights--employs some math to arrive at that figure. Most racegoers take the weights assigned by the official handicapper of the club very seriously, and even horse trainers are not an exception. In fact, some trainers make use of apprentice riders (also called 'bug boys') who are allowed to claim an allowance (a concession in weight) when they feel lesser weight would enhance their horse's chances. Eyebrows raised So it raised many an eyebrow yesterday morning when racegoers came to know that trainer Pesi Shroff, reigning champion trainer in western India, chose to declare jockey Srinath, likely to check in at 55 kg, on his horse Mathaiyus, who is assigned to carry only 49 kg. The overweight of 6 kg is unheard of in Indian racing, at least I have not come across such exceptional situation in my racing experience of close to four decades. Mathaiyus, who gained his first victory in third career start exactly a month ago, is one of the five horses in the fray for the General Obaidullah Khan Trophy, to be run over the trip of 2,400m, which is slated as the feature event of Thursday's seven-race evening card. His main rival appears to be Palatial who will be bidding for a hat-trick. Sensible logic When mid-day asked Pesi Shroff the reason behind carrying record extra weight, he explained his thought process. "I am planning to run him (Mathaiyus) in the Classics," the champion trainer explained, "so why not test him now?" It may be noted that Mathaiyus is a four-year-old gelding and, he will have to carry 57 kg on his back if he chooses to race in the forthcoming Classics. So Shroff's idea of checking him out with extra weight is justified in his own eyes. Be that as it may, going by the paper form of both Palatial and Mathaiyus, and taking into account this record extra weight on the latter, the former gets my first nomination. Within the rules Niranjan Bhati, the official handicapper of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), who will be watching with interest the performance of Mathaiyus, told mid-day that trainer Shroff was well within his right to declare a rider who may carry 6 kg overweight. "The rules of racing are very clear on this," he told mid-day, "overweight of up to 1.5 kg is permitted at race time, for more than that and up to 3.5 kg, the trainer can take permission from the stewards before the first race of the card. However, for overweight exceeding 3.5 kg, the trainer must take permission before the declarations stage, and Shroff has done it in this case." "However, in the event of the declared jockey not turning up," Bhati added, "the trainer will have to substitute him with a jockey of equal weight." First race at 5 pm.Selections: Lady Madonna Plat (For 4y, class IV; 1400m)Tchibouela 1, Celestial Light 2, Fabio 3. General Obaidullah Khan Trophy (Class II; 2400m)Palatial 1, Mathaiyus 2, Vulcan 3. Ahmed I Rahimtoola Trophy (For 3y, maidens; 1000m)Gentilesse 1, Stallone 2, Princess P 3. Riyasat Plate - Div II (Class IV; 1200m)Snowy Peaks 1, Grey Flannel 2, Pristina 3. Rajpipla Cup (Class III; 1400m)Pink Panther 1, Sparkling Eyes 2, Elegant Beauty 3. Isn't She Special Plate (For 5y&o, class V; 1000m)The Giver 1, Zion 2, Forever Yours 3. Riyasat Plate - Div I (Class IV; 1200m)Dhishoom 1, Silk Baby 2, Makino 3. RecommendationsBest bet: NoneGood bet: Pink Panther (5-2)Chance bet: Palatial (2-2)Upsets: Flag Flying (1-6), Generous Lady (6-2) & Airlift (7-1) Today's poolsSuper jackpot pool: 2,3,4,5,6,7Jackpot pool: 3,4,5,6,7Treble pool: 5,6,7Tanala pool: All races.