Dressed in a pair of crisp white fitted trousers,a bright jersey and sturdy helmet,the jockey mounts his horse. As the gates fling open,he leans close into his stud and for the next couple of minutes,nothing else matters. The crowd cheers thunderously,standing up or crouching to see who will be victorious. For the jockey,its only about the cup,lined neatly on a table. The years of practised discipline is all leading up to the moment when he walks to the podium and lifts his prize silver,crystal or glass does not matter.
The organisers of the race know the value of these trophies well. So they approach jewellers from across the country to design them in a way that would capture the essence of the hardwork put in to winning them. Vivek Jain,committee member of The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC),shares that they try to be innovative with the trophy designs every year. The biggest races in the Mumbai and Pune seasons are the Derbies. The trophy for the derbies only have the logo of the RWITC and the sponsors,if any,on the cup,which is pure silver, he says.
While the trophy of the most important race,the Nanoli Stud Derby,does not have any symbols on it,the trophies for other races do feature some symbolism. Nagaraj TA,owner of TV Chandrashekher Shetty and Sons Jewellers,Bangalore,where some of the trophies are designed,says they are given a value,a fair idea about the purpose of the trophy and the specific requirements of the sponsors. While most companies want their monogram on the trophy they are sponsoring,some also have specifications on the designs. The Southern Command race trophy features an insignia of the Southern Command along with a silhouette of a horse, says Nagaraj,adding that on rare occasions,he is required to come up with special designs too.
Recalling one such time,he shares that for a trophy that was meant for a jockey his team designed a motif that featured a cap and a whip. Nagaraj adds that it takes a month-and-a-half to work on the design and manufacture the trophies.
While some feel that the trophies should not change over the years,certain jewellers try to work on new designs to bring in new trends. Harshal Vedia,proprietor of Goldsmith and Sons,Mumbai,never repeats designs. He,along with his team of in-house jewellery designers,work on motifs related to horses and racing all year round and create a stock of designs before the racing season approaches. We have been making trophies for the horse racing season since 1970. On an average,we provide our clients with 20 designs,out of which they can select one or even mix and match patterns. We have been designing trophies for over 40 years,but we have never repeated a design, says Vedia.
He also reminisces about the time when his company would manufacture trophies in pure gold. The price rise has rendered them unaffordable nowadays. Trophies weigh about 400gms,which is quite expensive if you see its worth in silver that costs Rs 45,000 per kg. Since silver prices are so high,it is only feasible to plate the silver cups with gold, says Vedia.
Sandeep Rath,the director of Rathi Jewellers,Mumbai,works on vintage and royal designs for the trophies. He starts working on making a collection of designs six months in advance. Since the sport itself is associated with royalty of the Mughal era,my designs usually feature a lot of floral patterns along with the some stock motifs associated with horses, says Rath.