Friday, December 20, 2002

Thanks - 2002.

Dear Member,

The RWITC Elections are now behind us and I write this letter to thank you for your overwhelming support, which got me elected to the Committee.

Words cannot express my gratitude, and I look forward to the year ahead in the hope that I can make a significant contribution to the betterment of the sport.

Your suggestions are always welcome and would be much appreciated. I am always available to you at the above mentioned numbers should you want to contact me.

Sincerely Yours,
Gautam Lala.

Election Result:
Vivek Jain 467
Khushroo Dhunjibhoy 376
Gautam Lala 370
Shyam Ruia 368
Vijay Shirke 266
Champaklal Zaveri 364
Shivlal Daga 355
Diwan Arun Nanda 353
Ram Shroff 331

Monday, November 25, 2002

The First Election - 2002

Dear Member,

It’s the end of another year and we once again come to the RWITC elections and the AGM to be held in the Members’ Enclosure at 4:50pm on Thursday, 19th December 2002.

As we all know, racing is not going through the happiest of times. It is at this difficult juncture that I wish to offer myself as a member of the committee and do my humble best to strive to get racing back to the height it once commanded. In my modest capacity, I have served the Club as a Nominated Steward of the Meeting for the last two seasons in Mumbai. During this period I gained invaluable experience and got a closer look at the workings of the Club.

My introduction to racing turned to a passion while sitting on the children’s bench in the Mahalaxmi Race Course car park at a very early age and I have been an avid racegoer and owner as soon as I was of an eligible age. My parents Laxmi & Partab Lala have had the good fortune to own classic winners like Our Select, Bright Hanovar and Bakhtawar which set the standards of achievement and moderate success more recently with Minsky, Classic Talk and Louis Cyphre has helped appreciate clean and fair racing.

While the Supreme Court of India has determined that horse racing is a “game of skill”, we must propagate the sport in its proper light to bring back the crowds to enjoy the afternoon and give racing the importance and dignity it deserves. On a personal level, my MBA degree in Marketing has helped me run my packaging business and I sincerely feel I am in a position to contribute more generously given the responsibility as a member of the Committee.

My candidature has been proposed by Mr. Shapoor P. Mistry and seconded by Mr. Mahesh N. Thakkar. At 32, with the advantage and enthusiasm of age on my side, I would love to dedicate myself to the improvement of the game. I earnestly seek your support and will be most grateful for that privilege.

Sincerely yours,
Gautam Lala

Sunday, November 10, 2002



Ever since I was a kid, first time winners fascinated me. I always wanted that the first time a horse runs in my name, he should win. Silver Glow(Riyahi-Petite Aureole) was my first runner on 26th February 1989. Trained by Imtiaz A. Sait, he won the sponsored Classic Impression Trophy.

In April 1999, on one of the last days of the Bombay season, my trainer and friend Narendra Lagad came and sat with me in my box to watch a race. A very well bred filly named La-Bella was running and she ran a dead last. She had never won a race till then. She was by Portroe out of Watt-a-Lott, a full sister to the good juvenile filly Untold Story, from the Carpet Slipper branch of the Simon's Shoes family.  I very casually asked Naren to go and ask the owners if they would sell, as I wanted her for breeding. Naren came back in sometime and informed me that they were willing to sell the filly. After some negotiations with the owner and trainer(who also had some interest in the filly), we bought her for a song.

By the time she came to us, it was already too late for the breeding season. She was to go to Nirmal Ruia's Ruia Stud Farm to be covered by Warrshan. She took time to let down and didn't come into season in time for the covering season. We left here there for a couple of months and brought her back into training to see if we could pick up a race before the end of the year and then send her back to stud as she was still a maiden.

She came back into training in the following Pune season and strangely enough turned out to be the first runner under the Gainsville banner. She was also the first runner I would have with Naren as my trainer. Surprisingly she had worked very well, but we didn't know her habits. She had never won a race. Harish Rathod, Naren's stable jockey who had been working her was chosen to ride the filly who was renamed Vandalism. She comes from the Carpet Slipper branch of the Simon's Shoes family with Vali, Valinksy, etc. very close up in the pedigree. With so many V's, it was only fair to name her Vandalism.

Naren chose the sponsored 7 furlongs Everready Trophy for her. At that point I thought that Naren got over ambitious to run her in a big race. Her final spurt for the race had been very nice. Naren felt she had worked very well and actually had a chance. Hearing this, my hopes went up too. I remember telling Naren that it would mean a great deal and it would be a dream come true if she could win since she was the first runner for Gainsville. That morning, Naren keyed up Rathod and charged him up like he had never done before. In the paddock, apart from the usual instructions, the same words were repeated. He told him how much it would mean to both of us if Vandalism won considering she was my first runner with him and the first for Gainsville. She looked a picture in the paddock. A big dark bay filly, big bright star on the forehead, sheep skin noseband, she looked breathtaking. However, because of her past record, she was totally out of the betting and was available at 80 to1, the longest priced in the field. She jumped out last in a field of 12 runners and trailed the field till the bend. Into the short Pune straight, she was still last and then suddenly, Naren's magic started working. Rathod, who by now was riding her like a man possessed, brought her to the outside and Vandalism flew. Naren jumped out of his box screaming, "go Harish go". Harish I'm sure must have heard his master screaming as Naren's box is close to the track and he was loud…as loud as one can be. She covered the whole field in the straight and at the post she met the favorite Rodeo Star, and the two were locked together. The judge called for a photo. She had finished on the outside so it was even more difficult to judge from the television. I refused to go down to lead till the result was announced. We waited for the result of the photofinish and after a never ending 5 or 7 minutes, the judge announced….Vandalism had won by a short head. It was truly a dream come true.

Gautam Lala

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Achates, Kiss And Tell & Idar.

ACHATES after winning the Colts'
Handicap Stakes.
Achates was one of the first horses selected by me. I studied the 1990 auction catalog and came across this horse by the new stallion Tecorno out of Smooching. Smooching I saw was from the Pretty Polly family and her dam Close Relation was a sister to Great Nephew. In 1990 you couldn't get better than this. The first evening when we went to the roll, I dragged my parents(as at the time, they used to do the buying!) straight to the Pratap Stud ring, owned by my now dearest friend Maharaja of Idar. I clearly remember his lot number was 555. We pulled him out and there came this small little fellow with his head held low. A bay colt, very plain looking with no markings except a white right hind pastern. He was a very correct individual but very plain and very very small. Our trainer Magansingh Jodha checked him out and approved it, but didn't seem very keen. We didn't finalize it and went looking elsewhere.

My mind was set on him. Although he was small, he was a correct individual with a flawless pedigree. We walked around for 2 or 3 evenings in that sale and Magan suggested some other horses too but then finally said that if I was so keen on that little Tecorno colt, we should go in for him. He agreed that he was exceptionally bred and very correct conformationally. He said most horses from
Pratap Stud were small so it was of no consequence. When we approached Idar, he quoted a rather high price and refused to budge from it. Some common friends advised him to sell but he just wouldn't come down. But then, that's Idar for you.

Around the same time, a Tecorno 3 year old named Ashwamedha was making waves. He won his maiden by a street and his second win was very impressive too. He was now aimed for the then biggest baby race, the Breeders' Produce Stakes. Idar argued that he would keep all his horses till after Ashwamedha wins the big race and that, that would fetch him big money for all his Tecornos. On the 4th or 5th day, we went back to him as I was hell bent on getting him. We went to him, increased our offer, and also told him that if Ashwamedha won the big race, we would throw in something extra. He didn't agree to that, but finally did agree to a price and shook hands. The following week, Ashwamedha won the Breeders' Produce Stakes in scintillating style. Here was the start to the Pratap Stud-Tecorno era, the rise of the Pratap Stud, and a friendship that I truly treasure today.
The horse was named Achates after a Greek warrior in the Trojan War and also means "faithful friend". Mid way during the following Pune season Magan called up and informed us that Achates had improved tremendously. Back to the following Bombay season, he didn't race in the early part. However, he was ready to run just after the last day of the Auction Sales in February. He made his debut on 8th February 1991 in the 5 furlong Hindu Trophy. Magan said that he was not yet ready to win but would run a good race. So he went in without any expectations. In the race, he jumped out slow and lost about 4-5 lengths at the start. For a baby who is running for the first time, it is very difficult to make up lost ground. We all thought it was all over for him. Then suddenly, past the 800 marker, I saw him passing the others as if they were standing. Into the straight, he had not only caught up with the field, he was mid bunch. That second, I realized he was a decent horse. He had caught up with the field and so it was a decent run. But Achates didn't stop there. He continued his flight into the straight and went past every one in the field and won the race. The whole racecourse was talking about him, there were calls from all over that evening telling us what a good horse he was. He went on to win the Colts' Handicap Stakes in Pune, again unfancied to win in a strong set of runners. Subesequently, he didn't do that well with us. We sold him the following year and with his new owners, he won his first 2, and 2 more for them the following season. In all he won 11 races and more than Rs.7,00,000=00 in stakes.
The Kiss and Tell Story
The same year when we sold Achates, I bought his half sister by Lingot d'Or from Idar. I met Idar in August at a party in Pune and inquired about the filly and learned that she was not sold at the Auctions in February. I offered him terms, which no one had ever heard of, but which I had worked out and rehearsed to strike a deal when the time was right. So I told him I would give him one foal from the filly when I bred with her and also 50% of all the stakes that she earned. The following day, I called him and after a brief discussion agreed on the terms and bought the filly. She was named Kiss and Tell. A filly bred like this is hard to come by. Kiss and Tell showed early promise as a 2 year old in her morning workouts. She was put into all the big baby races and placed in all of them, earning black type in the Bahrain Trophy finishing behind Romantic Harmony and finishing 2nd to Mariana in the Royal Honk Kong Jockey Club Trophy. She also ran 3rd to Cape Dance that season. In Pune she suffered a slight set back and raced only once. The following Bombay season, her debut run over 7 furlongs suggested that she doesn't stay, so the Indian 1000 Guineas was ruled out. However, she didn't do too well that year till February, so we flew her to Calcutta during the Invitation weekend. The flight was arranged by a dear friend Mr. Mahesh Thakkar. She ran a 6 furlong race on the Invitation weekend and was the only Bombay contender, other than Elusive Pimpernel to win on the Invitation weekend. She stayed back as planned in Calcutta with Vijay Singh. Vijay Singh is the son of jockey Jagdish who won most of our classic races for us back in the 60's. in Calcutta, she won us almost Rs.7,00,000=00 is stakes, 6 races, 4 in a row, got invited for the Sprinters' Cup. When I retired her to stud, I bought over that foal which I was to give Idar. She is now the dam of winners Egelvsky and Amatol.

Gautam Lala