The advertised prize money of Rs 15 crore, is the highest for a single season of racing of India. Even though the Club advertised a higher figure last year, of 16.5 crore, that included a near Rs 3 crore on the Turf Invitation Cup Weekend which is not being held at Mumbai this year. Hence, on a comparative basis, the stakes are up by about 10%, With divided races and sweepstakes to be added, the actual pay out will be near 20 crore.
The RWITC continues to lead the way in attracting record sponsorships for its events, and the coming season will be no exception. Contributions at nearly Rs 7 crore is impressive, as last season”s Rs 6.2 crore (excluding the Invitation Cup races) was a high in itself. The Club will host a sponsored or graded race on every weekend of racing, except a couple in April, which is impressive, considering the Mumbai season spans five and a half months- the longest duration of any racing season in India.
THE MCDOWELL SIGNATURE PREMIER INDIAN DERBY WEEKEND
As every year, the McDowell Signature Indian Derby Weekend will hold centre stage. Rebranded with the affix “Premier” this landmark classic remains of India’s best promoted mega sporting events. With prize money expected to cross an unprecedented Rs 2.5 crore for the Derby, Derby Day has become an institution for the city of Mumbai. In recognition of its stature, the RWITC and the UB Group inked a record 27.5 crore agreement for a five year renewal from 2013, which is but befitting a race of such magnitude.
VISION FOR INDIAN RACING
Mahalaxmi is home to four Indian classics, with The Indian St Leger, having been shifted to Pune. Bennett Coleman and Procam have shown a vision to showcase Indian racing as never before with a 360 degree buzz, creating a surround on television, print, radio and the internet for major races across the country. Announcements on this will follow.
The tripartite agreement between the RWITC, Bennett Coleman and Procam, enters its second year, with the prospect of the major races going live for two hours on a major national channel. Revamped, and rebranded, the television blitzkrieg, headed by the well known expert Jim Ramsey, will present racing as never before - international compering, improved camera work, better graphics, to showcase the might of racing as a great visual sport. While the initial season telecast was appreciated, we wish to build on the start, learn from mistakes, and take both the technical parameters and the content to a new level.
THE RACING PROGRAM
In addition to the classics, the racing program is replete with graded races, millions and multi millions. We have a record 30 races offering prize money of Rs 1 million or over- 12 for juveniles, 11 for older horses and 6 for horses of the classic age, in addition to a Class IV race. Hence the rich prizes have been spread across all age groups.
The Committee has approved a 5% increase in the performance bonus to owners, which now totals 25%. As this incentive is paid without deduction, the benefit to the owners is greater; the performance incentive will total 2.5 crore for a year. In addition, for the first time ever, six races have been reserved for owners who have a share in five or fewer horses to reward our “smaller” owners. A study is on for the introduction of “selling races”, which are popular in the US and is a mechanism for owners to sell horses they no longer wish to own.
THE JAGJIT SINGH TRIBUTE MILLION
In memory of the legendary Dr Jagjit Singh, a RWITC member-owner for decades and an internationally recognised artist, an innovative race has been framed in his honour. For the first time the Owners’ Association and four individual owners, in addition to the Club, have jointly contributed to the race. It will be a million race, and has been kept for a Class IV handicap and reserved for small owners only. I believe this will be the first race of its kind with this level of prize money in the country- a true tribute to the ghazal maestro.
The live streaming of races on www.rwitc.com, initiated last season, has been a runaway hit and is our web site’s most distinctive feature. We hope to offer greater value to the stream, especially beneficial to enthusiasts outside the country.
The Club hopes to enhance its quality of CCTV coverage, by offering more angles, slow motion and possibly a running rail camera. A studio set up, is being considered, to offer more value to the program. The Club has agreed in principle to move to a digital-HD platform, and the feasibility will be taken up shortly.
After the enormous success of the path breaking Symphony Orchestra of India program last year, the Awards Night, the Farmers’ Market and the stand up comedy show at Pune, we plan a full roster of events for our members and guests, featuring music, dance, theatre and cultural events. These are designed to showcase our destination, and offer a greater ensemble for our members to enjoy and partake in. The RWITC has planned a socially relevant event in partnership with the internationally recognized TEDx on November 20th, a Marathi cultural extravaganza also in partnership on November 26th and finally an international music star will perform live on our lawns on November 30th. A superlative start to the season indeed!
AIR CONDITIONED TENT
Members would be aware of the spanking new Hangar the Club recently imported from Germany, and was inaugurated with the Oktoberfest last month. Air conditioned, and spread over a mammoth 16,000 sq ft, it can be used on sponsored days and hired for corporate and social events throughout the year. Besides offering great value on racing days to sponsors, with time this could well become an important revenue earner for the Club.
Every race day will feature contests and prizes that involve the racing public. From a high end Mercedes on Derby Day, to free stays at luxury hotels, this innovative idea, of which the RWITC has been the trend setter, is here to stay. We will once again offer the luxury Vento on the contest of skill linked every Sunday to the jackpot pool, in association with Shaman Motors. The contest kicks off end November.
HOSPITALITY AND MEDIA PARTNERS
The Club, each season partners with leading hospitality and media houses to improve the visibility of the sport. Hence, such well known names as The Four Seasons, Joss and Ista Hotels renew their association. Bennett Coleman is the RWITC’s prime media partner, with their focus on creating a surround for the sport with an exponential enhancement in the coverage across all media of races that go live. With our objective to be in the sporting, lifestyle and business segments, we continue our excellent partnerships with Forbes, Mid Day, Elle and Hello! Who have all assisted, and will continue their efforts in popularising the sport.
In our endeavour to reach out to our significant membership base in a timely and cost effective way, we are innovating with Hoof Print, an e mail news letter that will be sent across our membership base, informing our patrons of upcoming events and developments at the Club worthy of attention.
Class returns to grass! There has been a common perception that the ambience of the members enclosure has been reduced with the relaxation of the dress code. With the objective of moving towards the days of the past, when it was de rigeur to dress for the races, a minimal dress code will be enforced till the end of February.
The RWITC took its first steps towards an increased presence on Facebook and Twitter, and its new digital initiative, Tribe@Turf. We hope to progress on all these mediums and Tribe@Turf will be the focal point for our social endeavour activities covering open spaces, heritage, and charitable drives.
CHIEF INTEGRITY OFFICER
The Committee recently appointed a renowned racing administrator from Australia, Wayne Wood, to supervise its racing department. As the nomenclature of his designation implies, his chief task will be to restore the confidence of the public in the conduct of racing, investigation and all that it takes to bring the integrity of racing in the forefront
So we hope this invitation is enticement enough to draw you to the race course to witness some scintillating high octane action, and enjoy a fabulous weekend under the sun. The racing horses, jockeys and crowds await in earnest readiness as the 2011-12 Mumbai Racing Season finally gets underway! The atmosphere is electric, there's a palpable buzz in the air...ladies and gentlemen, it is time to scorch the turf!