Safe in Poonawalla’s hands


January 24, 2007

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Bombay | Individuals

Dr. Cyrus S. Poonawalla is now the undisputed leader in the racing scenario in Western India. Members seem to have reposed total trust in him. They regard him as “safe”. If this mood and perceptions continue — mostly likely they will — he will be firmly at the post for some more years.

“It’s safe in the Poonawalla’s hands” — that is what a senior member (name withheld) said after the last elections. This perception was echoed by an official of the club who heaved a sign of relief when the “right safe” man was elected.

I asked the turf’s personality why he thought Dr. Cyrus S. Poonawalla was “safe”. He said: “Poonawalla has no vested interests. There is a fear in some members about some candidates. Call it an instinctive perception if you like: Poonawalla is clean. He does not want to get anything out of the sport of racing. Is motives are known they are there for all to see. They know, when he takes over, there will be no hanky panky and all will be well.”

He continued: “Dr. Poonawalla will not misuse funds. He will not use the club land in any way except for racing. He will protect our interests and the interest of the club. Rightly or wrongly, there is fear and suspicion about some members. There may not be, in fact, any basis for such fears. But when we already have a solid leader who has proved himself over the years, why take any risk? At all elections, members keep out some about whom they entertain anxiety and fear. Maybe sometimes, we make mistakes — maybe we keep a good man out. But it is there — the safety factor. This explains perhaps why Poonawalla’s team had such resounding success. Look at the result: the first five – that is the number needed to get majority in the club’s committee — were all leader Poonawalla’s men.”

There is now solid proof that majority of the members trust him. They think that racing and the club is in safe hands. The perception now is strong that Dr. Poonawalla has no other interest but the growth of racing and smooth functioning of the club.

Look at his record. Nobody in the turf has done so much for racing as Dr. Poonawalla. By now he must have spent a huge amount on racing. He started the first Million race in the country – the Poonawalla Breeders Million. This race has now become Poonawalla Breeders Multi-Million. And how much breeders of India contribute to this race? Practically nothing. The richest race in the country is the brainchild of Dr. Poonawalla. Calculate the amount contributed by Dr. Poonawalla for just one race: it runs into crores.

In addition to this race, there are other million races started by Dr. Poonwalla in Pune and Mumbai.
And in Mysore too. The Mysore Derby is sponsored by him.

He digs into his pocket every now and then for bringing about development. Recently he spent nearly half a crore for bringing in new facilities in Pune. And we see the new telecast features — by the Poonawalla group.

He is well-known for taking instant decisions. You suggest to him a good idea, an immediate change in racing, he will pick the mobile immediately and get it done.

It is not just the “apro Poona-walla” factor that keeps Dr. Poonawalla at the top. Members belonging to various communities support him. He gets supports from Maharashtrians, Marwaris, Gujarathis, Parsis and members from southern states. He is a big industrialist now but despite this, he is there are the racecourse on almost every race day — observing things first hand — on the ground.

Okay, he gets a kick out of being the chairman of a prestigious club with as many as 7,000 members. So what, that’s only human. It is certain that Dr. Manmohan Singh also gets a kick out of being the prime minister.

Original article here