The Mumbai Racing season, will come under “starter’s orders” this Sunday, as the RWITC is gradually nudging its way to the top of Indian racing’s pyramid.
The reduced horse strength has resulted in a truncated 22 day season, though handsome dollops of sponsorship has enabled the Club to offer the highest stakes per race in India. Covid seriously dented racing’s finances, and the return to near normalcy is nothing short of a miracle.
The RWITC has always been a trend setter with its record sponsorships and marketing initiatives over several years and seems to be regaining lost ground. The Shiven Surendranath led Marketing Group , has pulled a rabbit out of its hat, by getting all the Indian classics sponsored, especially the big ‘un, the Indian Derby, after first USL and then UBL pulled out after a continuous run of a record 30 years. A home grown liquor company, Jagajit, steps into rather large shoes, having won the rights for the Derby for six years for nearly 20cr, and Betway, the online gaming site, who sponsored the Pune Derby, comes in for both the Indian 1,000- 2,000.
Night racing, of which I have always been somewhat skeptical, makes a return after a few lull years, and one hopes it sees better days with BookmyShow’s association with this much touted innovation to the racing program.
The RWITC has recently taken a few path breaking decisions- free entry to members/owners/trainers on live Mumbai race days and completely doing away with the dress code (except the paddock) one assumes is to attract food and fun fests on race afternoons. This will surely be scoffed at by traditionalists, but with depleting attendances, may be worth giving a shot?
Where the RWITC needs to step on the pedal, is to get on the front foot in offering race day experiences to get in a new audience and offer upgraded facilities and the recent moves to monetize different areas at the race course by creating new banqueting and F&B areas are steps in that direction.
Dr Ram Shroff, the newly elected Chairman of the Stewards, appeared gung ho on the prospects of the season and hopes to end the season on the first weekend of April, with a racing carnival, perhaps seeking to emulate some of the vaunted international equivalents.
After Baaeed failed in his swansong , it was the American superstar, Flightline, officially the world’s best Flat horse, who made it six for six in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Classic, on the other side of the Atlantic, proving to be an equine athlete of the magnitude of Usain Bolt in human sprinting and Tiger Woods in Golf.