Every few years, the Chief Steward of Pakistan holds it’s very popular Senate Derby, which is the only one in the world, where all the contestants are up for open bidding before the race and can be bought by the highest bidder.

The Contestants are fussed and brushed by their owners and trainers, for all those who reach the finishing line are declared winners and are guaranteed green pastures and a life of comfort and luxury.

The winners also enjoy other mercs and perks, like air-conditioned stables and displaying the word, ‘Senator’ on the stable doors, swanky horse trailers with padded walls and all the juicy carrots and hay they can eat. They also get an opportunity to have their pictures taken with the President and the Stewards of the Race Club.

Years back, holding a Derby in the Land of the Pak and the Pure had been banned, but when the Chief Steward was replaced, everything changed and now it is business as usual and the horse trading, the bumping, doping and fixing are in full swing and the bookies are having a field day.

At one time, The Derby was a prestigious event, but even then, there was horse-trading and open bidding for the contestants, but it was like shopping at Macys, you got quality at a bargain price. But now the quality of the participants is like shopping at Walmart, you get a bargain, but the quality is questionable.

As the dates for the race are unpredictable, the entry fee, the prize money and the stakes are very high, but the investment is worth it. Fillies, mares and even mules from the most prestigious stables and stud farms in the country keenly contest the Derby, including some from the stables of our saints and sinners.

As such, this year the entry fee for The Derby had shot up, as the track had become dangerous and tricky. However, the fixing, betting, horse-trading and manipulation to enter the race was full of “vigor and zeal”.

The criteria for participating in The Senate Derby, besides the high entry fee, which goes into millions of rupees, are very strict, but quite different from the other International races.

For this race, form, pedigree, merit, previous track-record, etc., are not important. The only criteria are, for the contestants to be from well-established stables and stud farms of the country and should be well heeled and have nimble hooves.

They must have strong arms for slapping and punching their opponents, a good record for changing tracks and in and out running, be good at bumping their opponents off the course and have the stamina to handle the grueling, difficult and tricky track.

They must be tough and thick-skinned, be able to jump the high hurdles, manipulate the many dangerous twists and turns and the hoops and loops of the course and be able to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds.

The hundred odd contestants were hand picked by the Stewards, so as to ensure that the punters enjoyed the race and got their money’s worth.

As the stakes were high, there were always fears of race fixing and doping the contestants by filling their troughs with rich food and a night out with the fillies. Therefore, extraordinary precautions were taken before the race and the contestants were taken into “protective custody” to prevent “fixing”.

This year’s Derby proved to be the toughest and the most expensive so far, as some of the Stewards were from the 5th Cavalry and were good judges of horses.

But in spite of the difficult track, all the contestants managed to finish the race and to gallop across the finishing line with ease and without a sweat. There was the usual traditional aerial firing and the winners were all garlanded and congratulated for winning The Derby.

But as always, when the stakes are so high, there are some poor losers and a case of sour grapes, who cry foul, accusing each other of fixing the race, of corruption and mismanagement of the Club’s affairs.

There have been cries of “fixing, bumping and doping” from some of the losers and complaints and objections were lodged from a few punters. They claimed that some of the winners should not have been allowed to participate in The Derby, as they had been disqualified in the last one for doping and “in and out” running.

However, these rumors have been circulating ever since the new committee took over the management, but the President and Chief Steward of the Club have out- smarted all their accusers and not one charge has been established. The results proved that the best had won and the punters and the bookies had a great day.

And now that The Senate Derby is over, we can all sit back, relax and bask in the glory that, like our cricket team, we have the best horses in the area, which can outrun and handle and tackle any challenge that comes up in the racing world. The results have also proved that money won’t buy you love or good governance, but it will certainly buy you votes.

As to when the next Senate Derby will be? Well that all depends on the President of the Club, the stable owners and as to how their horses behave.

If they trot and dance to the tune of Uncle Sam and the Stewards and do not buck and kick, then everything will be fine, but if they misbehave, then it will be back to the stables again and the long uncertain wait for the next Senate Derby.

The next big race in the racing calendar is the coveted Quaid-e-Azam Gold Cup. The exact date has not been announced, as there is the threat of the treacherous Memogate and the much forgotten Mehrangate viruses that have been released from the cans of worms opened by the tricky and shady MI and the frail and ailing YH.

There are fears that these might infect the favorites and some of the leading contestants, with the dreaded foot and mouth disease before the big race, forcing them to withdraw. 

So, let us hope for the best and that the Quaid-e-Azam Gold Cup will be held in time and will be fair and free and without horse-trading, fixing, doping and all the nasty things that racing is notorious for.

Email – trust@helplinetrust.org.

Face book -http://www.facebook.com/ helpline.trust