LIKE his charge Trinniberg who brought international recognition to Trinidad and Tobago last November with his win in the Breeders Cup Sprint, trainer Shivananda Parbhoo, wowed the crowd at Friday night's 2012 Jetsam Awards ceremony.
The guest speaker at the event, Parbhoo--a United States resident since 1990--engaged the audience comprising, owners, trainers, jockeys and businessmen in the Century Ballroom at the Queen's Park Oval, firing jokes and questions at them while at the same time apologising, if he may have said anything unpleasant.
Getting out of the gates with a prepared speech in hand, he soon chose a different approach.
"I like to say what comes from me," he said, pointing to his heart and putting his three-page speech aside.
Recounting the 60 seconds he got to speak when receiving last month's Eclipse Award at Gulfstream Park, Florida where Trinniberg copped the champion male sprinter title, Parbhoo suggested to the Arima Race Club (ARC) that it should consider giving horsemen speaking time.
"I will like to see the people come up and say thank you, if it is for ten seconds" he said.
"If I am wrong, say so. Don't be afraid to tell me so,' he urged the audience.
Switching lanes, he then advised: "If I could do it (win the Breeders Cup Sprint), you can do it, by giving back 100 per cent to your horse and staying focused."
Prior to Parbhoo taking the stage, a video replay of Trinniberg's Breeders Cup triumph was shown. At the end of the clip, the guests applauded lustily. Tears of joy rolled down Parbhoo's cheeks.
"It was a hell of a ride," he said. "Having this horse from a two-year-old and running against all those big trainers is not easy, but I did not lose hope in him going into the Sprint although he was beaten in the start before."
Heading into the race, Parbhoo explained that his father Bisnath, who lived in New Jersey, was supposed to join him at Santa Anita but was prevented from doing so because of Hurricane Sandy. However, some fatherly advice was still imparted.
Parbhoo related: "He told me if you run 1:09, you will run third or fourth; if you run 1:08, probably third. You will have to run 1:07 to win, and Trinniberg won in 1:07 (plus)."
He then related how he accidentally came to own Trinniberg, Parbhoo having gone to buy vitamins for his horses, before ending up at a horse sale on the suggestion of an employee at the establishment.
"I saw this horse, and I bought him for US$21,000. I did not have any cheque book or money. I went back the next day and paid for him" Parbhoo recalled.
Remembering the colt's run in the Kentucky Derby, Parbhoo admitted that many people disagreed with him racing Trinniberg in the Derby, but he felt justified, and has not regretted it.
"Go for the Kentucky Derby. You might be luckier than me," was his advice to owners and horsemen.
Recalling his roots in T&T, Parbhoo explained that he and his father were small-time gardeners in Aranjuez and took the gamble to migrate to the USA. The only connection he had with horses and horseracing back then was attending Boxing Day racing, and seeing a horse named Jarrovian trained by Joe Hadeed.
Parbhoo admitted being saddened to learn of the loss of Horse of the Year, Bruceontheloose, and sympathised with the owners and trainer.
Having lost champion sprinter Giant Ryan, he knew the feeling of such a loss, as Giant Ryan had finished fifth in Dubai in the Sprint, a performance which was the best among the 12 horses sent from the USA to compete in Dubai. He said Giant Ryan took up the running hitting the eight-pole to the wire and he never made it suffering a fractured sesamoid in both forelegs.
"It is a day I will not forget. In this sport it is very tough" Parbhoo said.
He then explained his decision not to train horses for other people.
"We started with one horse, just to own a horse and today we own 17 horses. I get plenty of calls from everybody, and the reason being, when owners want to see their horse in a race, do you have a choice?" he asked.
"When that horse finishes fifth or sixth, they want to know why" He asked the trainers in the audience if this was not so, and begged: "Let the guys do their job."
At the end of his speech, Parbhoo received a standing ovation and was applauded as he made his way off the stage.
Earlier on, the ARC's president Hugh Lee King recapped the 2012 season and chief executive officer Chris Armond gave the vote of thanks and commended young calypsonian Aaron Duncan on his guest performance, and suggested he could probably ask the youngster to sing a song about Bruceontheloose.