The horse racing industry in India is facing an uphill task as the COVID-19 pandemic has not only disrupted the industry across the country but has also caused enormous financial loss to all stakeholders involved.
The horse racing industry comprises of a number of stakeholders – horse breeders, horse owners, jockeys, managers and horse racing clubs. Given the fact that horse racing has now been banned for close to 5 months, there has been zero income for all stakeholders, just a lot of expense.
Horse Breeders Report No Sales
The horse breeding industry has reported hardly any sales this year. Breeders across the country usually have a combined total of around 2000 new horses that are born each year and sold all across the country. Some of the top breeders and horse farms in India said that they had no sales so far but even worse, no enquiries have come in from their usual customers.
Since no one is willing to buy the new stock this year, it means that horse breeders are going to be stuck with a number of new horses which they will have to care for and maintain. All this is going to increase their current expenses and make it difficult for them to feed and maintain the horses.
Each horse is generally sold for 12 lakh rupees. The breeders use this money to maintain their existing horses and prepare for the next season. With no money coming in and their expenses going up, a number of breeders are concerned for their future.
Minimum 30,000 Rupees To Maintain A Horse
Horse owners need to shell out a minimum of 30,000 rupees per month to maintain and feed each horse. The training includes raising the horses and keeping them fit and ready. However, a number of small horse owners appear to have abandoned their horses as they no longer come to the stables to check up on their horses.
One of the reasons for them not showing up is because they know that they will have to pay out the 30,000 rupees per month for maintenance and training. They have gone silent and will most likely show up when they have some money in their pocket and can pay their dues to the trainers and breeders.
Top horse racing clubs like the Bengaluru Turf Club (BTC) are aware of these training and maintenance costs. The BTC offered their horse owners a two month basic maintenance cost program to help them and their horses. However, the BTC was unable to do more as the pandemic has continued.
Horse Racing Industry Could Collapse
The BTC tried to put together an 8 day mini racing tournament in an effort to bring in some business and help all stakeholders in the racing industry. However, COVID-19 struck quickly as 10 out of the 50 jockeys tested positive and the authorities were quick to seal the front office of the BTC and cramp the plans for the mini racing tournament.
Even if top racing clubs manage to put in place strict protocols and get permission to hold a trial mini racing event, there is no telling how many horses will be in a position to race. This is because horse owners have to clear their basic maintenance costs with the turf clubs because they are granted permission to race.
Most horse owners have lost crores of rupees and are in no position to clear their dues immediately. Horse trainer S Padmanabhan said that many owners have thrown in the towel as they are no longer able to afford to maintain their horses. Horse owners have at the BTC are reported to have lost a combined amount of 20 crore rupees.
State Governments will have to do something soon to help out the horse racing industry in their respective states or we might see multiple race clubs closing, resulting in a massive collapse of the horse racing industry in India.