Calcutta: There was plenty to cheer about for the 20,000-odd New Year’s Day revellers who crowded the RCTC stands. The mini-village and the ambience in the backyard of the paddocks for the Rajasthan food festival, courtesy Gangour , remained equally packed throughout the afternoon. Favourites played their part,too, rising to the occasion to ensure that returns from the totalisator came handy.
Four of eight favourites delivered the goods. But the two who drew the loudest cheers were the winners of the two sponsored events, the Eveready Indian Produce Stakes and the Eveready Alkaline Sprinters’ Trophy — courtesy Eveready Industries. Andropov won the Produce Stakes, the baby race, in the manner the Tecorno-Goldilocks colt from Vijay Singh’s yard had scored in his maiden start.
Bold Chieftan, the even-money favourites from Daniel David’s yard in the Sprinters’ Trophy, however, headed towards the start with a sour note among his followers. It was because of the suspension of the Chieftan’s originally declared jockey Mark Gallagher who had failed the random breath analyser test conducted by RCTC. The jockey was found to have crossed the permissible limit of 30 mg per 100 ml blood alcohol concentration. However, Daniel said Gallagher had had only three glasses of wine on New Year’s Eve. But without going into details about the jockey’s intake of quantity of alcohol, Vineet Verma, CEO, RCTC said: “All jockeys I’m sure are aware of rules related to consumption of alcohol.” He also added: “They are free to drink, but there has to be a reasonable gap between the last drink and his riding commitments.” However, questions were raised in the racing circles as to why Gallagher was permitted to ride in the first race. The jockey has been suspended until January 5 in addition to being fined Rs 2,500. Ryan Marshall partnered the Chieftan to a start-to-finish victory.