2 July, 2022


Charlatan Or Trojan? The Champion Horse That Was!

By Reeves Neydorff

Reeves Neydorff

Reeves Neydorff

One week after the events that led to the demise of Charlatan and since the first grand proclamation by the Royal Turf club, as to his care and rehabilitation, we are left with a blank wall of silence from the RTC. A rising crescendo of resentment, and a sense of betrayal by the people who have shown concern for the animals welfare is all we were left with.

This confounding silence has only led to further speculation and inquiry, out of which has now appeared a rather twisted and diabolical trail. All we hear now are echoes of our own inquiry.

This trail of deception takes several twists and turns, first covered up on the course by a ready made white sheet and further made confounding by the statement made by The RTC that Charlatans injuries were just a sprain. The horse would be looked after and cared for they said. What a horrendous lie it has turned out to be.

Royal Turf ClubIn this statement the RTC not only tried to peremptorily dismiss any and all concerns about the horses condition as “twisted minds”. They even made a further gaffe, which they have not rectified since. They also addressed the Governor as ‘His Excellency Niluka’, who was the Chief Guest at the grand finale. Their crass ignorance, and their arrogant attempts at creating a pseudo aristocracy does not go down well in our cultural circles either. The images of revelry and celebration afterwards do not show any sign of concern for the creatures condition. Were they fully aware at that time?

Now back to Charlatan.

Further inquiries have led people to believe that the horse itself was administered euthanasia!

His carcass was spirited away in the wee hours of the morning. But the surreptitious means and the deceptive statements which have proven to be false, raises further questions.


Interpreted from the Latin word as the act of causing death painlessly, so as to end suffering. Advocated by some, but questioned by many, for it being open to interpretation!

What are the due procedures on course when a horse falls?

Were these procedures followed?

Who were the vets involved?

Is there any video evidence to study of the races, if no, why not?

Are the stewards and marshalls not responsible for the due process?

Who decides when a horse needs to be administered euthanasia?

And what veterinary capacity does Sri Lanka have to administer to any possibility arising from our horse racing and breeding?

Obviously not enough, as the news is of a Vet surgeon and a team from Bangalore were flown in

to do the needful? It is a known fact that none of our veterinary surgeons would be willing to perform that exercise!

Isn’t this single episode a proof of the claims by activists that this form of enterprise is not in keeping with our cultural conscience?

The RTC’s aim to conduct further races every month and to establish racecourses around the country will beg the further questions.

In every race there is the possibility and it is not about numbers but the distinct possibility of a fall. At what level are our veterinary services able to properly administer the sport?

A statement from the Veterinary services as to their consultation and liability should be forthcoming!

The questions are many, but all attempts at verifying facts fell on deaf ears. A wall of resounding silence.

This writer attempted to contact Wayne Wood the CEO of RTC but it was in vain. His mobile is shut off! This led this writer to further inquire as to the gentleman’s antecedents, and came on some shocking revelations. Wayne Woods is a man who was implicated and finally admitted his knowledge of race fixing in Queensland 20 years after the fact, when he was a steward in Queensland Australia. His excuse ”I was young and inexperienced”.

That brings me to some of the activists’ claims, particularly Kindness Collective, a grouping of individuals who are particularly concerned and who made the first inquiries and who were branded as the twisted minds by the RTC.

This is what they have to say. Quote “Although there are other schools of thought, we at Kindness Collective, do not believe that any form of sport that involves animals and racing can ever be conducted humanely. The animals will never be willing athletes unlike humans and that in itself is cruel as we strip away their right to choose. Thoroughbred horses are genetically manipulated and bred to challenge conventional speeds and thereby are weaklings. Further the obvious implications of over 90 percent of horses in the racing industry face several forms of trauma and life threatening injuries “.

They further added ”In the case of Charlatan ,it is sad to see how the club who claimed to care for the creature and were quick to respond to save the last day of the festival are silent now about his fate. If this is how they choose to hide the truth then who knows what other corrupt practices have gone under the public radar?”

This brings this writer to the further conclusion as to the diabolical nature of the whole exercise involving Charlatan!

Thoroughbreds are an investment. They are not pets. RTCs initial statements about “ordinary people” (up to ten persons) can invest in a thoroughbred and show their further intentions. First, why would any ‘ordinary person” want to invest in a thoroughbred other than for earning money? Do these comments also portray certain pretensions of status? Do some have an idea that money can’t buy class?

Investments call for insurance.

A very few people would make such investment without an adequate insurance policy.

And that brings us back to Charlatan!

What insurance policy would an investment of that nature entail?

The horse has earned millions of dollars at stud and millions of rupees more at the races. In fact over Rs 13 million in races alone. That is according to available statistics. That could be in Indian rupees and almost doubled if in Sri Lankan currency. Obviously the reinsurance company will need to dig deep into the grounds of Edwards Plantations in Kurunegala if a claim for the dead horse is made.

A bay gelding going on six years old has already made money for his owners. And now searching for courses? But alas The horse found a grave instead.

How did the horse clip the hind hooves of the horse in front?Bad riding?What were the circumstances? Is there video viewing by the race marshalls and the stewards? It would also give lie to the statements made by RTC, of the claims of modern facilities!

Now only grave misgivings arise from the incidents, and the lack of any information forth coming, but the lack of any monitoring by any authority and the very arrogance at which the RTC has decided to maintain stoic silence leads us to believe that there is more to this episode than meets the eye.

It also raises the possibility of horses chosen to be dumped through Sri Lanka due to our lack of strict monitoring processes. Horses who have run their courses and who are destined for their last races become more in value dead than alive. Will Sri Lanka become a graveyard for racehorses that have passed their use by date? And what sort of burial was the Champion Race Horse Charlaton afforded after earning a pretty penny for its owners? Somewhere anonymous and far from prying eyes or sold for its meat?

In this regard, was someone being smart knowing fully well the meaning of the word “Charlatan” ?

This should warrant further investigation and inquiry. The implications are enormous.

Was Charlatan in fact a Trojan horse? Perhaps his owner Deepthika Jayakody, the Ewdards Stables and the Royal Turf Club could answer that.

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Latest comments

  • 1

    Mr Neydorff

    It is not uncommon for horses (and humans) to injure themselves in the pursuit of happiness, and it is standard practice (and humane) to put down an animal when its injuries leave it in extreme pain and with no possibility of recovery. There is nothing sinister about drawing a sheet around the animal when this is done, it is dignified, and shields the emotionally vulnerable from the sad sight.

    You were right to raise pertinent questions at the outset, and the fledgling racing authorities, and others, will surely take relevant matters on board.

    This latest piece of yours is hardly an ‘exposé’; more like a flight of fancy fuelled by a fertile imagination. Something that comes out of a quiet day at the office. Turn to some of the more pressing matters – and there are a plenty in our Island Paradise – and leave what is essentially a private matter to those involved, some of whom are genuinely grieving at the loss of a loved animal.

    As for Nuwara Eliya racecourse, I knew it well in the late forties and fifties. In my boyish enthusiasm, I ran the course several times, and often stopped to visit the stables and feed some of the legendary giants of the Ceylon Turf – Cotton Hall, Owen Tudor, Hoagy Carmichael et al. I remember the fabulous colourful seasonal carnivals that Donovan Andree brought to town. Heck, I was there when good Queen Elizabeth too came to visit. Those were joyous times before the boo-boys banned racing and left the yakkoos to turn the grounds into commercial ventures, leaving the place one big eyesore, a shitty mess.

    You have done the subject to death.

    Things can only get better.

    • 0

      Spring Koha,
      I quite agree.
      In Sri Lanka, humans are treated far worse than animals.
      Let us worry about these instances.

  • 1



  • 0

    here we go again…misguided animal lovers who have no idea of the practicalities involved !

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