Horse racing: ‘Government needs to support equestrian sports’

Published: March 5, 2013

PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Despite winning the prestigious Pakistan Derby for the fourth time, Amir Pervez feels that the sport needs more money and support from the government.

He said it was high time for the Jockey Club of Pakistan (JCP) to get registered with the Jockey Club of Asia (JCA) as it would enable local riders and horses to compete abroad.

Pervez won the Pakistan Derby grand race, claiming the prize-money of a whopping half a million on Sunday with his horse Denzaro. Although more than five competitors pulled out of the competition leaving only five horses, Pervez believes that his win was well-deserved.

Other than the popularity of his horse Denzaro, Pervez was also lucky as nine-time national champion Shahid Rehman did not compete due to a hand injury while A Raza rode his horse Rakse Hawa, which secured the second position in the competition.

“I know people say that anyone could have ridden Denzaro and won the race but that’s not true,” Pervez told The Express Tribune. “The rider makes all the difference. I know this horse well and I know how to get him to run fast. Many owners also pulled back from the competition because they knew Denzaro and I are a good team.”

Pervez added that the authorities should now go beyond the Pakistan Derby and organise more challenging events.

“The government needs to support equestrian sports. A jockey’s future here isn’t so bright. We only get 10 per cent of the money, which isn’t enough because the total prize-money in the races is very low compared to the one offered in the races abroad.”

Meanwhile, according to Rehman, who has also competed in England and won in South Wales in 2000, financial constraints are keeping horse racing in Pakistan behind.

“Horse racing is the king of sports and the sport of the kings, there is a lot of money and fame in it,” said Rehman. “But unfortunately in Pakistan, it’s tainted with gambling charges, which is detrimental to the sport.

“Things are changing now. JCP has prepared its stud book, properly documenting the breeds in Pakistan, and it should be registered this year hopefully. However, money remains an issue and we have asked owners and stake holders to contribute. Right now, we have requested many people and we are almost there. We should get it registered this year and that will be a boon for the sport.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2013.

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