Former ace jockey Pesi Shroff, who reluctantly hung up his boots in October 2004 after facing health-related issues and immediately graduated to becoming a horse-trainer, achieved a rare milestone of saddling 1000 winners when he led in Khartoum to the winner’s enclosure at the Mahalaxmi Race Course here on Sunday.
Shroff began his glorious 23-year long career as a teenager in the summer of 1981 at this same venue where his talented cousin Karl Umrigar had suffered fatal injuries in a race-track mishap two years ago.
Shroff had to compete with his celebrated Indian and foreign peers like Vasant Shinde, Aslam Kader, Mick Kinane, Lester Piggott, the riding legends of that era, before gaining acclamation as a naturally gifted rider in his extremely competitive profession.
By the time Shroff decided to wrap up his career, he had amassed1736 victories including eight Indian Derbies, an enviable record which will certainly take some beating in the history of Indian horse racing.
Similar to his initial riding days, Shroff laid the foundation of his horse-training career brick by brick but once he found his mark and claimed the first trainer’s championship title in 2006-07, he has been virtually unstoppable since. Yet it was no walk-in-the-park for the 53-year old trainer as he had to weather many a storm in his 13-year old career thus far. To his credit, Shroff took every setback into his stride and kept his focus on his job rather than get distracted by the challenges fetched by his professional fame.
Be it Deepak Khaitan, Vijay Mallya, Shapoor Mistry, Ameeta Mehra, Cyrus and Zavaray Poonawalla Vijay Shirke or KN Dhunjibhoy, to name a few, it was the trust he earned both as a jockey and trainer which led to him being retained by these big-ticket racehorse owners.
Shroff, probably unconsciously, has mastered the art of training classic fillies including the wonder filly Jacqueline, whose feat of claiming four Indian classics during the 2009-10 Mumbai racing season remains unparalleled. Shroff has already been crowned champion trainer ten times and he is sure to win this year’s title too.
Modest as ever, Shroff dedicated his success to his owners, jockeys, stable staff. He said, “I have been lucky to have good and understanding owners, my hard-working staff without whom it would’ve been difficult to achieve such results and, last but not the least, my family who have supported me all the way.”
ePaper, Mumbai Mirror, Bombay, Monday, April 23, 2018, Page 14:
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