Statement by VIVEK JAIN, Chairman, RWITC, on the commencement of the Pune Racing Season 2012
The 2012 Pune Racing Season is in all readiness to “gallop” off the blocks in fine fashion! From lucrative prize money to top quality sponsored races …… from excellent partnerships to attracting the crème de la crème of society, the eagerly anticipated monsoon racing season, promises all that and much more! The highlights :
The advertised prize money of about Rs. 7.15 crore is on par with the last racing season and probably the highest for a monsoon racing centre in India. However, as the performance incentive payable to owners has been enhanced by 5%, the incremental stakes payable on this account would be over Rs. 20 lacs and thereby the actual payout will be higher than at the Pune Season 2011.
The RWITC continues to lead the way in attracting record sponsorships and the coming season will be no exception. Contributions of over Rs. 1.25 crore are again on par with last year, and each weekend will feature a sponsored/graded race as has been the norm for the past several seasons. The RWITC remains most appreciative of its contributors and partners who add a special dimension to the sport.
It must be emphasized that in view of the slowdown in the economy and cut-down in marketing budgets across the board by several Corporates, this has been a particularly difficult year in getting sponsorships. Inspite of the external environment, the Club has done well in scheduling a packed season of top races over the entire three months.
We welcome first time sponsors in Raja Bahadur Pittie, Konark Builders, Hyatt Regency, Portside Café, Sanjay Kakade Group and Ashwin Gidwani Productions who are all first time sponsors of races at Pune. Though we have lost some traditional contibutors, we are confident, they would return at the following season.
THE NANOLI STUD PUNE DERBY AND THE MCDOWELL INDIAN ST. LEGER
The Pune season’s only two Grade 1 races remain The Nanoli Stud Pune Derby and The McDowell Signature Indian St. Leger . The Pune Derby has become synonymous with Nanoli Stud who would be sponsoring Western India’s first classic for the new crop for a record 16th year in a row. The Dhunjibhoy family will, as always, also sponsor the Sprint Million on the same day, as an added bonus. The Derby weekend will also feature the hugely popular Oktoberfest, for the third year running, thanks to the munificence of the Indo German Chamber and its associates.
The Indian St. Leger returned to its rightful place at Pune last year, which has been its traditional home. Permanently shifted back to Pune, since the last season, this last of the Indian Classics gives the season an added dimension and is sponsored by RWITC’s biggest contributor, McDowell, with Rs. 2 million in added money, and it would be run on the last Sunday of September.
THE RACING PROGRAM
The season will feature a number of Millions and Graded races for each age category, the highest for any monsoon season in India. A record 18 races will carry a minimum prize money of Rs. 1 million which is commendable for a short season as is Pune. And, this year Pune again gets the privilege to play host to the first 2 year old Million race in India.
Pune takes credit in attracting the highest number of international sponsorships with Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, Goffs, Coolmore Stud, Keeneland Association and Red Mills Horse Feed all sponsoring races at Pune. Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and Goffs jointly sponsor the Grade 2 RWITC Ltd. Gold Cup and Coolmore and Keeneland are contributing to Million races.
The RWITC is making a special effort for recognition in the International racing world. We participated at the Asian Racing Conference in Turkey last week where I made a formal presentation on behalf of the Turf Authorities of which helped showcase Indian racing. Coming Sunday, The RWITC Trophy will be run at the Singapore Turf Club, as part of our objective to establish reciprocal arrangements with international racing Clubs and to introduce simulcast of International races.
SOUTHERN COMMAND DAY
The Southern Command Cup Day, one of the season’s highlights will be a special day this year. Under the leadership of the GOC Lt. Gen. A. K. Singh, the day will feature an aerial show and other unique fanfare to mark the strengthening relationship between the RWITC and the Army.
HOSPITALITY AND MEDIA PARTNERS
The RWITC is perhaps the only racing Club in India to strive for, and obtain, a range of hospitality and media partners. Pune 2012 is no exception, with The Ista Hotels, Radio One, DNA and The Times of India Group partnering us to spread the good word for the sport and the Club. Races will be run to acknowledge their most valued association.
THE HYATT CROWNS FOR RACING EXCELLENCE
In addition, we have a new hospitality partner in The Hyatt Regency, Pune, who have been generous to not only to host the inaugural press conference but are also hosting for the first time, the season ending Racing Excellence Awards which would be named “The Hyatt Crowns of Excellence”; and will offer special room tariffs for members and prizes through the season.
The agreement with Bennett Coleman for live coverage of our biggest races continues, viz.,The McDowell Signature Indian St. Leger and The Nanoli Stud Pune Derby both expected to be telecast live on a national channel.
SPECIAL MEMORIAL TROPHIES
The Club has framed trophies in memory of three distinguished trainers Bal Lagad, Nana Raghunath and Vinayak who passed away during the last year. It was fitting for the Club to have races named in their honour in recognition of their significant contribution to the sport.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND TRIBE@TURF
The RWITC will continue its presence on Facebook and Twitter, with improved content and timely updates. The Club’s new innovative endeavour, Tribe@Turf, to encompass a broader community to racing and our premises, will make its impact at Pune, with atleast three non racing events lined up, that will enthral the fraternity and Puneites.
The Club’s web site is now reckoned to be amongst the best in the country, with several firsts to our credit and in addition to live streaming of the entire race card, we are proposing to redesign the home page to give it a more slick, modern look. We will continue to add features and style to make the site of international standard.
We thank AGP for sponsoring the live streaming and introducing “hosts” for the week-end racing which will add to the live viewing experience.
Owners remain the backbone of the sport and we continue to find ways and means to help their cause. In addition to granting a special subsidy on the maintenance fee from the start of the year, the Committee has also enhanced the performance incentive from 20 to 25%. In a special gesture, the Committee has approved the reimbursement of Service Tax on stakes which is a benefit over Rs. 3.5 crore annually to the owners. The Committee has also shortened the advance entry date for sweepstake races which would result in saving of entry fees. In addition, six races have been reserved for “Small Owners” which experiment was most successful in Mumbai.
The Committee is taking steps for improvement in infrastructure every year for both horses and members. New starting gates and railings were added last year and the monsoon track has been extended by 400 m this year, and the extended monsoon track will be in operation in a few weeks. The popular LED screen would once again be placed across the track. A significant upgrade in the Turf Club House is already under way.
BOOKING OF TICKETS ONLINE
The Club in its endeavour to attract visitors and make it easier for booking entry passes, has tied up with Kyazoonga, a web based portal for online purchas of race day tickets as well as other events.
The Club has entered into an agreement with Switch Media who has designed the Club’s website, for the introduction of mobile applications for RWITC racing which will be usable on Smart and Mobile phones. This should be ready in about eight weeks.
In our endeavour to reach out to our significant membership base, we innovated with “Hoofprint” an email news letter informing our patrons of upcoming events and developments at the Club. This would be continued at the Pune season.
Jaws Events will always handle most of our race day events and Hundred percent PR, the media coverage. Ashwin Gidwani are sponsoring the live streaming and will also handle our non-racing events.
We hope this will be a season as no other and the Committee has endeavoured to bring maximum entertainment, maximum racing during the season ahead!