Following in his father S Ganapathy’s footsteps, Karthik Ganapathy entered the world of horse racing 10 years ago and currently trains 41 horses under him.
In an interview with Indibeat, he chats about this unconventional profession, and what he finds most rewarding and challenging about training horses.
IB: Tell us what a day in the life of a racehorse trainer is like?
KG: It’s not a regular 9 to 5 job – it’s more of a 24×7 on-the-move profession that involves making individual schedules and plans for all the horses the previous day – sometimes dealing with their sickness, grooming, diet, health problems like stones in the hooves, common colds, their tantrums even!
Horses are very fragile animals, they need to be treated like babies, so there’s a lot of unpredictability involved.
IB: The best part of training racehorses?
KG: I think first is my love and commitment for the animal, and being around them early in the morning in vast open spaces when the air feels cleanest.
Besides that, it would be the fact that I get to wear casuals five out of seven days a week! When everyone is in formals all week, I’m in casuals, and on weekends when everyone kicks back into casuals, I gear up in my formals for the races.
IB: What struggles do you face?
KG: One of the most distressing problems I have to deal with is that some family members and relatives tend to associate this profession with gambling rather than a sport. We need people to have a more uninhibited outlook to see this as a sport.
The other tough part would be being away. As a trainer, my work requires me to constantly be on the move – shifting cities depending on the racing seasons. I would love to be in one place and stay close to my family and my children.
IB: What is the focus of your tension during a race?
KG: Definitely the amount of public money involved and invested in every race. A lot of public trust is riding on you when someone backs your horse.
IB: How do you maintain a rapport with jockeys, owners etc, since the nature of the sport is highly competitive?
KG: Seeing as this is a relatively atypical sport, we are a very close knit group with little trace of friction. We’re more like a family.
The competitiveness only lasts for those one or two minutes during the race, and fades off right after. If ever there is any problem for anyone, the racing fraternity would come to the rescue.
IB: The most memorable and most frightening moment in your career?
KG: The most memorable would be the first Indian classic race in Bombay that my horse Maple Star ran, and won!
The most frightening was a day I took a horse to the hospital to run some tests. I was holding onto the lead rope, when the horse got frightened and made an unanticipated run that could have been fatal for me – I suffered a deep cut across my stomach, the scar of which remains to this day.
IB: What’s the scope of building a career in horse training in India? Do you see youngsters pursue it?
KG: You have to be a very committed person to become a racehorse trainer. If you have the passion for it, you have to enrol as an assistant trainer with any of the current trainers in India for three years, and then set up your own stables.
Lots of youngsters show interest in training but most of them back out due to the 24×7 schedule. But the ones who make it are doing really well. We have a young batch of trainers who have just graduated in India, who are doing great.
Image Credit: Racingpulse.in