By Reeves Neydorff –
The pomp and pageantry is over. The revival of horse racing was back in Sri Lanka and it rose to a dreamy height. Ministers, a governor, a mayor, the rich and the famous were seen in their suits, men in top hats, ladies in sprawling dresses, fancy hats and with champagne flutes overflowing. There was prize money too and the richest prize ever to have been awarded in the sport, in this paradise isle.
However as all revelers have dispersed now, the worrying factor is, where is the fallen champion horse Charlatan who fell down and broke it’s leg?
The name Charlatan caught my eye! A name defined as “a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud”.
The prize winning horse had an accident in its last outing on the 30th of April at the Nuwara Eliya races! Another put down!
This horse had earned millions for its owners over the years, on more ways than one!
But I was pleasantly surprised at the reaction from the Royal Turf Club post races, the present franchisee.
A bold statement was splashed across their Facebook page. Their comments made after the incident and their pledge to rehabilitate the injured Charlatan and keep him as their Ceremonial mascot was what they portrayed.
However this would be against all horse racing traditions. Horses are just an investment to the rich and once it has lost its value it is just more expensive to up keep it, especially with a broken leg! Usually it would be better for the insurers to euthanize or put down.
Well done Royal Turf Club or so I thought!
That was till I heard the disturbing news that the Charlatan the champion had already been put down the day after its fall. My curiosity was aroused. Why this subterfuge? Why hasn’t there been any further information forthcoming?
The Royal Turf Club as it calls itself came into being recently. It was after many allegations of doping horses, by the scandal ridden Sri Lanka Turf Club that eventually had their stable doors closed.
The RTC was formed and the Nuwara Eliya race course which is the property of the Sugathadasa Stadium was placed into their hands after much promise. In fact clean promises were made before it was handed to them on a two year lease. With that came the massive refurbishing of the race course. Businessman Rienzie Edwards splashed freely and lavishly and the stables, the race course and the sport was revived. Tens of millions of rupees and the subsequent partying in imitation of our past colonial masters began. Champagne and wine and top-hat and tails, et al! But each to his own fancy I say! But the cost was around the hundred million mark someone whispered.
How can horse racing which is an elite sport (and Sri Lanka does not even have a recognized industry) bring Sri Lanka any benefit? Only bookies will thrive! And stud farms!The Nuwara Eliya races, were sponsored by an Indian stud farm, even Charlatan’s jockey was Indian.
And now they euthanize! But they do it in deceit.
I am waiting to see any further posting of pictures and the loving care and the kindness that any animal deserves after it has been ridden into the ground. Or was it ridden for the pleasure of an Elite minority! Its owner Deepthika Jayakody the sister in law of Rinzie Edwards would know best.
The sport of Kings is not a part of Sri Lanka! We do not have any Kings in Sri Lanka!
The last one who dared is sulking and sniffling with his courtiers on the curbside!
But I do remember the outcry at allegations of his son’s ownership of Thoroughbred race horses! And the Golden horses he once rode with his girlfriend.
We as a nation decry the use of animals for pleasure or sport! Or any Kingly affectations!
So what difference a horse?
Animal rights activists are calling for more stringent regulations and some are even calling for the closure of the Dehiwela Zoo! And now this! Wonder what Animal rights activist Otara’s views on this is?
Horse racing is a brutal industry! It is competitive, its main product is gambling and will only enrich the bookies.
The pious platitudes of its purveyors, as to care and respect for the Horse named Charlatan, need re-examination and to the backdrop against which they were made!
What grounds for the injured horses death will be proffered. If it is dead! Heart attack I heard another whisper during operation, caused by trauma? Or was it a lethal concoction injected into its veins? Is Charlatan already buried? Is there insurance involved?
What costs or facilities did the RTC have in mind when they confidently made the first comments over the Horses injury! Did they already know of its demise before they made the statements and to what purpose were they really made?
I await any response to my queries from those who could enlighten me.
Or else am I to believe what was told to me came from the horse’s mouth itself?
May the ‘Royal Turf’ rest softly over you Charlatan, a champion ! a king!