RECORDS GALORE !
THAT’S WHAT THE MUMBAI RACING SEASON PROMISES THIS YEAR.
By Prakash Gosavi
The Mumbai racing season 2010-11, scheduled to start tomorrow at the picturesque Mahalaxmi racetrack, will be the richest ever in the history of this sport. "Thanks to our generous sponsors, the prize money earmarked for the 42-day season is pegged at Rs 17 crore," announced Vivek Jain, chairman of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) Ltd, at a press briefing on Thursday evening, "however, with many races likely to be split into divisions, the figure is likely to cross Rs 20 crore!"
Interestingly, over Rs 7 crore will be put up by corporate sponsors, while nearly Rs 2 crore will be contributed by members of the elite club. The lion's share, of course, will be shouldered by liquor baron Vijay Mallya's U B Group who will put on the line a whopping Rs 1.5 crore for a single race--the McDowell Signature Indian Derby (Grade 1)--to be run on February 6, 2011. The Derby prize money this year will most likely cross the Rs 2.5-crore mark.
"After our last year's success in hosting the Invitation Cup, we are delighted to get yet another chance to host the same glamour weekend (March 5 & 6, 2011)," added Jain, "as the Madras Race Club expressed their inability to host the same." Jain has roped in Housing Development & Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL), who have already been on the contributors' list (Indian Oaks, Jan 23, 2011), to sponsor the Indian Turf Invitation Cup as well as the Stayers Cup. During the same weekend, Sprinters Cup will be supported by Shapoor Mistry in the memory of his star mare Oasis Star, while Ameeta Mehra of the Usha Stud Farm will sponsor the Super Mile in her father, late Major PK Mehra's memory.
The most notable--and the most surprising too--addition to the sponsors' list is that of the Tata's. The business house that had always stayed away from the world of horse racing, which has always been dominated by the elite from the Parsee community, has finally entered the sponsorship arena by putting up Rs 50 lakh for the Tata Housing Prive Karl Umrigar Turf Championship to be run on March 27, 2011.
The Poonawalla Breeders Multi-Million (PBMM), the richest race for juveniles with stakes way over Rs 1 crore, sponsored by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla and his farm, will be run on February 27, 20011, while the Gitanjali Lifestyle Indian 1000 Guineas and the Casino Royale Indian 2000 Guineas are slated for December 12 & 19, 2010 respectively.
With over 1,000 horses likely to participate in the 22-week season that stretches up to April 24, 2011, quality racing will be the norm. Competition will be extremely stiff across all classes of horses, and professionals--trainers and jockeys--will always be kept on their toes. Among trainers, last year champion Pesi Shroff starts as hot favourite to win the title, with a possible threat from Cooji Katrak; while there could be a keen fight between emerging star Dasrath Singh and veteran C Rajendra for the jockeys' championship.
MID DAY continues to be the RWITC's preferred media partner, and to honour the long association, the race club will run the MID DAY Trophy on Sunday, 26 December 2010. The race will be run over six furlongs and will be reserved for maiden three year old horses.
"MID DAY has always been extremely enthusiastic about racing," Vivek Jain, RWITC chairman, said, and added, "the popular city tabloid makes sure they add colour and glamour to their race day by getting a leading film star to grace the occasion, which has proved a big draw every year." Jain remembered how super star Akshay Kumar had charmed the railbirds last year, and expressed hope that the newspaper would get another big star this year.
In a special ceremony, Vivek Jain and MID DAY's Mohit Sainani cut a cake to commemorate the long-standing partnership.