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Rich and Attractive Season Ahead at Pune - By Mahendra Mallya

Posted on - 18 Jul 2013

Rich and Attractive Season Ahead at Pune
By Mahendra Mallya
A strongly attended press conference, comprising sponsors, media persons, members of the RWITC and professionals, filled the ball room of the Turf Club House in Pune on Wednesday, 17th July 2013. The conference opened up with a thoughtful gesture with the guests observing a minute’s silence in respect of those who lost their lives in the Uttrakhand tragedy. The RWITC has always showed its softer side whenever calamities have struck anywhere in the country and have raised its hand in contributing to various relief funds time and again. The Pune season too, will begin on a similar tone with the club leading a fundraiser on the first two days, the proceeds going towards the relief of the scores of victims struck by the grave tragedy.  The Pune season, therefore, begins on a noble note, with solidarity and concern shown by the managing committee.
Soon a lively audio-visual showcasing the highlights of the last Pune season was played. This was followed by another heart rendering A/V, that brought the tremendous work and help carried out by the Indian Cancer Society for the unfortunate cancer patients. Ms Lolita Saletori from the ICS made a brief speech on the important role that the ICS undertakes for the benefit of these patients. “Support” was the watchword and one realized that a little contribution towards fellow humans that are less fortunate, can go a long way in bringing much needed relief for those in need.
Mr Vivek Jain was the sole member representing the RWITC and was accompanied on the podium by Mr BA Engineer and Mr NHS Mani, the secretary and additional secretary of the club. Mr Jain opened his address by announcing that the 29-day season would begin on Thursday, 18th July and conclude on the last Sunday of October. He also elaborately revealed the new additions and improvements for the season, one of which is the pacing of three new big LED screens at vantage locations for the viewing pleasure of the racing patrons.   
The main track has been converted into a monsoon track from 2000 meters to 1400 meters. It is envisaged that by next year, the entire race track will be a monsoon track.
Explaining the difficulty on roping in new sponsors, Mr Jain explained how even centers like Ireland where fewer races are run, also find it tough to even sustain their sponsors leave alone getting new sponsors into racing. He said “Despite the economic downturn, the amount of sponsorship has not decreased for the Pune season. Contributions of 1.10 crore are on par like last year. Every weekend will either have a sponsored or graded race which has been the trend for the past several years in western India”.
Another interesting inclusion is a Champion’s bonus of one million in four categories – Champion sprinter, stayer, middle-distance horse and a three-year-old. There are three races earmarked for each category and the horse that wins two of the three races will claim the million-rupee bonus. One can imagine the competitive edge to achieve the title and the reward for this innovative idea.
The popular performance linked incentive prevalent for some time now, has been enhanced from 25% to 50% of the total advertised stakes, provided however, that the total stakes for that race do not exceed Rs 3.3 lakh.
The number of races for two-year-olds too have been increased to four as against 2 races last year. This would give the younger horses more chances of getting into the groove early and an opportunity for owners to win stakes with their juvenile wards. Like last year, one of the four races will include a million race as well.
The highlight of the season will indeed be the Nanoli Stud Pune Derby (Gr1), the Signature Indian St Leger the two Grade 1 races for the season. The PRA Independence Million will be the top race for horses in Class IV which is unique as no other center has such a rich race for horses in this class. The Suresh Mahindra Trophy which at 3200 meters is the longest race in the country is another unique race run at Pune.
The Ocktoberfest is another regular feature that adds a festive aura to racing in Pune during the Derby weekend. “I thank the Indo-German Chamber for their continued support and for the effort that they put in, in getting the traditional band and chefs for the occasion goes to show the enthusiasm and spirit to make the weekend a thrilling and different experience for the city of Pune.
The Connolly’s Red Mills Million will bring the curtains down for the season. Connolly’s will also sponsor the Season’s awards for racing excellence on the same day.  This is the first time that the season’s awards will see an international sponsor.
In a progressive step after being the ones to introduce live streaming of races on the Club’s website -, the RWITC is now on the verge of launching that will not only air racing and other events at the racecourse, but also record and archive the footage of the social events, photo gallery, interviews, the CSR drives etc.
At the end of the conference, an exciting proposition to have a retirement home for horses gave a welcome twist to the horse lovers. Responding to a request put forth by Mr BA Engineer, new sponsor Commander Deepak Naik, Chairman and Managing Director of the Thevur Hamlet assured to consider such a retirement home for horses. He said that he had the resources for such a venture and would discuss the matter with the club in the near future.  On that positive note, the conference concluded and the guests were treated to a delectable luncheon.  

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