THE preceding year turned out to be critical for equine sport as no less than 36 horses died at the Karachi Racecourse on two counts —colic and other diseases plus mercy killings.
Though the figure couldn’t erase the maximum mark of casualties of racing horses that occurred in 2015, it did raise alarm bells for the fraternity, particularly the horse-owners.
It is pertinent to mention that approximately 50 horses died in April 2015 due to the outbreak of a deadly virus that infected the animals at the Karachi Racecourse.
Last year’s statistics reveal that 30 horses breathed their last at the stables due to assorted aliments during the summer while six were destroyed following severe injuries occurring while racing.
The half-a-dozen horses that mostly had their legs fractured during the races and were later destroyed included Cup Cake, Kaka, Olympus One, Maalik, Victory King and Class Leader. The last four horses met their fate only last month.
Class Leader was the most expensive horse among them and had cost the owner’s pocket approximately Rs1,100,000. Similarly, Victory King’s cost was about Rs750,000.
The demise of these horses has cost the owners approximately Rs 12.5 million since the animals are not insured.
Luckily, many riders who have fallen from their mounts while riding during the races survived without hurting themselves seriously.
The ratio of success of unknown pedigree horses surged in 2018. As many as 130 unknown pedigree horses won out of 184 races, the statistics reveal.
The remaining 54 winning horses were either half-bred or thoroughbred.
Altogether 43 cup races were held during the year aimed at adding attraction to the horseracing.
No races were held for 10 weeks out of 52 owing to the advent of Ramazan and Muharram plus lack of entries and heatwave.
Rider Mohammad Manzoor excelled among his cadre with two feats — firstly performing successive hat-trick and secondly winning the Best Rider of the Year award.
Eminent rider-turned-trainer Ghulam Shabbir II shone by sending 36 winners and fetched Best Trainer of the Year award.
Whip’M made owner Yasmeen Azhar proud by capturing the Horse of the Year award that for eight victories, including seven on the trot.
Whip’M started 2018 by winning the June Cup on May 5 and went on to add five more cups to his tally — Eid Milan Cup, Independence Day Cup, Eid-ul-Azha Cup, Defence Day Cup and Salt Range Cup.
Rider Manzoor produced awesome form while galloping seven of eight winners, including six cups.
The Best Owner of the Year award went to KRC patron Syed Sibghatullah Shah Pir Pagara for winning most races.
In all, 44 sand dumpers were laid at the course during the year.
Meanwhile, Syed Sadruddin Shah aka Younus Sain was re-elected patron of the Karachi Race Club (KRC) for 2018-19 period at the 29th Annual General Meeting.
Drastic measures needed to be taken in order to improve the horseracing industry and bring it at par with the high standard of the old racecourse.
The KRC employees also await a raise in their salaries for the last eight years which urgently needed to be looked into by the high-ups keeping in view the inflation and steep cost of living.
Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2019