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Poonwalla Multi-Million changes focus to charity - By Vivek Jain

Posted on - 25 Feb 2011

Poonwalla Multi-Million changes focus to charity

By Vivek Jain
 
The Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi Million, one of India’s richest races, and virtually the juvenile Derby for first season three year olds, changes focus this year with an emphasis on charity instead of fashion.
 
In keeping with RWITC’s recent endeavours in the social realm, the PBMM, as it is popularly known now, becomes the third big event of the season with a charity angle. When the Indian Cancer Society (ICS) approached the Club for an event, we quickly suggested this day- renowned for its stature as a premium race with a huge lifestyle spinoff. The Poonawalla family readily agreed to associate, and hence the drive to charity will hold centre stage this Sunday.
 
The ICS will also run a race, appropriately called The Race of Hope Trophy, to stamp their own presence on a day, which will still have its fair share of fashion and glamour and don’t be surprised if a record number of flowery hats are seen on the lawns. In a first ever attempt at a charity raffle, flags at just Rs 100 can be purchased  (the funds going to the ICS), each with a number to take part in a lucky draw with the popular Nano as the top draw. Owners and racegoers are expected to voluntarily contribute to the ICS Fund.
 
The Australian Trade Commission adds to the day by hosting the Melbourne Spring Carnival Cup and a high tea for their guests.
 
The Poonawalla Breeders’ Million, as it was known since inception, was spawned in 1990, replicating the Cartier Million and equivalents run in the U.K. with a guaranteed million purse. With the stakes this year touching 11 million, and having crossed the 10 million mark last year, the new nomenclature of multi million is well deserved. The race day has been renowned as the first to offer a  car to the public in a free contest, an idea which has caught on all over the country. The PBM day was also the first to be promoted as a day replete with fashion and prizes, so much so the attendance started nudging Derby Day figures at one point.
 
The credit for the superb marketing of the day must go to Mr. Zavaray Poonawalla, who has been the pillar behind this iconic event since inception. From free attendance to the public, free refreshments, a glamorous high tea, a slew of prizes, stars and fashion, prizes for the best dressed, and the name million itself were the results of his dream to take the promotion of the sport to a new high. Even though some of these innovations have been dropped in recent years, the rich heritage of the race has ensured it retains its charm as one of the season’s highlights.
 
Some of the best known names to have won this race and other classics are Forest Fantasy, Her Excellency, Autonomy, Bourbon King, Six Speed and Versaki. Several champion sprinter-milers got their first big win in this juvenile classic, which is Western India’s only Grade 1 race for three year olds during their first season.
 
PBMM Day goes live on ZOOM from 3 to 6 pm on Sunday.

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