'It has been a crazy journey'

Saddle up

'It has been a crazy journey'

It made a world of difference for Silva Storai when she moved from Italy to India a couple of decades ago.

The karmic connection brought her to Kodaikanal where she met her husband. Soon enough, her love for speed motivated her to pursue her passion for horse racing.

She shifted her base to Bengaluru and there has been no looking back for her since then. She acquired the stature of becoming India’s only professional woman jockey and the only woman to have won two Derbys.

Today, she is the director of the Embassy International Riding School and is thrilled to be sharing her love for horses with the younger generation. Silva speaks to Anila Kurian about how she became the top woman in a male-dominated field.

Tell us about your initial struggles in this field.
It was a tough ride to reach where I am now, especially because I am a woman. Somehow that made people doubt my skills. But I had great friends and an instructor who taught me to overcome these beliefs. The only way to do so was to prove my talent.

Your best race so far?

I have so many of them but the most memorable one was winning my first derby. When you’re in a race, you don’t think about the title that you’re winning. Every race is the same and your adrenaline is always at its peak. But when you do win, especially the first derby of your career, it lifts you up in an incredible way. The applause and the appreciation you get show the combination of your hard work and talent.

What’s the first thing you do after the race is over?

Apart from enjoying the moment, I look forward to coming back home and relaxing. Having spent an exhaustive day, unwinding and hanging out with close ones is what I prefer to do.

One thing people tend to ignore about horse racing.

Due to ignorance, many forget to think about the horse they are riding with. They enjoy the riding much better. But it’s important that you connect with your horse and build a relationship with them. The good horsemanship will automatically make your race better.

And how can one connect with their horse? 

It takes a lot of time and experience. If you’re lucky, a good instructor will also be the key to building that relationship.

Your opinion about the Derby fashion.

It’s great fun to see people dressed in different colours  on the day of the race. Though the fashion has nothing to do with the actual racing, it is nice to celebrate in a colourful way. I think it is very healthy.

Horsemanship in younger generations...

It’s great that parents are enrolling their children
for classes. I am happy to be a part of this changing lifestyle and I hope to
take horse racing to the next level.

Your other passions...

Horses are my only passion. My day revolves around them. When I’m not with them... well, I am always with them!

After living here for decades now, do you accept that you have become a
Bengalurean?

Oh yes, I think of Bengaluru as my home more than I do of Florence, Italy. I’ve seen what the city used to be like and how much it has grown. It’s been a crazy journey.

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