Owners face syces' wrath at BTC

 Just when it seemed a compromise formula had been reached on the long-standing issue of syces’ wages at the Bangalore Turf Club, the matter flared up again on Wednesday, with the stable hands allegedly assaulting some of the owners.

The syces, the Karnataka Trainers’ Association, the Karnataka Race Horse Owners’ Association and the BTC officials had reached an agreement at a meeting on Tuesday. The stablehands were expected to sign the deal on Wednesday but they turned hostile, leading to chaotic scenes at the BTC.

“At Tuesday’s meeting the syces had signed a draft statement. Today they came to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with a legal advisor. But the legal advisor put new demands which we couldn’t agree and the syces walked out of the meeting,” a BTC official said.

“After some time around 500 syces gathered and they manhandled some of the owners.

The syces let loose the horses also, creating a chaotic situation at the turf club,” the official said, adding that two of the injured owners have been hospitalised.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central), G Ramesh, said around 12-15 stable workers had attacked horse owners and trainers, badly injuring one. “The culprits have been taken into custody and investigations are on,” he said.

Meanwhile, BTC officials said a decision on the weekend’s races will be taken at an emergency meeting on Thursday. “The decision on this week’s races will be taken tomorrow,” he said.

The syces had gone on strike before last year’s Summer Derby in July as well as the Winter Derby in January leading to postponement of the races. Temporary truce was reached before the Winter Derby with the syces agreeing for a salary of Rs 6500 but yet again, a solution has evaded the problem.

“Many of them want the issue to be resolved but a few people are creating trouble,” said another BTC official.

BTC is to host the biggest race of the season, the Indian Turf Invitation Cup, next month and if the matter is not sorted out quickly, it can cast a cloud over that event as well.

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