Last Sunday was a red letter day in the life of India’s legendary “horse whisperer“ Rashid Byramji. After regaling three generations of horseracing fans, the master craftsman retired from the game, officially.
Article by Usman Rangeela | Times of India
Although the racing world knew him as a horse trainer, Byramji was in fact a sculptor. An artist par excellence, Byramji sculpted champion after champion, year after year from raw bloodstock. He was a sculptor who was both mesmerized and infatuated with his creation; a creator whose admiration or lust would refuel rather than cease after the making of a singular objet d’art. Byramji kept creating masterpieces one after another; each better than the previous one. No wonder he was chased by the true connoisseurs of this art.
Having trained thoroughbred horses for the Indian Maharajas early in his career, Byramji raced horses for many an industrialist, business tycoon and breeder.By virtue of his stellar performance, Byramji ruled the Indian racing turf like none other, never before or after. That this third generation professional lasted fifty years in this trade was literally a tribute to his virtuosity.
Byramji effectively hung his boots at the end of the last Bangalore winter season, in March 2017, when he took the painful decision of not renewing his horse-trainer’s license anymore. He would have quit the sport long ago when age started telling on his efforts but his love for the noble four-legged creature and the fact that the racecourse was virtually a second home prevented him.
It was only befitting that the legendary figure was accorded a fond farewell by the racing fraternity during a timely felicitation ceremony hosted by the Bangalore Turf Club’s management on summer Derby day.
Words literally fail to reflect Byramji’s achievement though, for the record, he amassed an all-India tally of 3170 wins including 230 classics, 10 Indian Derby winners and 12 Indian Invitation Cup winners. The veteran was crowned champion trainer 42 times in a career that started six decades back in 1956.
Although Byramji started his career at Royal Western India Turf Club, he was forced to settle permanently in Bangalore apparently after an ugly spat with the turf club’s management. In a rare display of his rebellious character, Byramji refused to take lying down the injustice sought to be inflicted on him by the RWITC’s erstwhile managing committee in 1979.
Not only horses, Byramji honed the skills of jockeys who were also recognised as champions.His yard was like a one-stop shop for all aspiring horsetrainers! Over the years, Byramji became an institution in his own right and a guiding light for at least twenty horse-trainers. Even Aslam Kader assisted him soon after giving up horse-riding.
Aptly summarising Byramji’s personality, Pesi Shroff said: “That Byramji was good human being mattered more than him being a good horse-trainer. We got to learn in five minutes the skills which could have taken him years to accomplish.Although his training skills are folklore stuff now, I would say Byramji was a `trainer of trainers’.“