RWITC racing season begins today, slew of events in store
Times of India
PUNE: The Royal Western India Turf Club's (RWITC) racing season is all set to begin in Pune from July 26, promising a packed calendar for race aficionados.
The RWITC also plans to unveil a host of other events such as an aerial show to mark the strengthening of the relationship between the RWITC and the army, apart from unfurling Tribe@Turf - three non-racing events expounding the city's local culture.
Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Vivek Jain, chairman, RWITC, said, "The advertised prize money of about Rs 7.15 crore, which is at par with that of the last racing season, is one of the main highlights of the races to be held at the Pune race course. However, as the performance incentive payable to horse owners has been enhanced by 5%, the incremental stakes payable would be over Rs 20 lakh, making the actual payout higher than last season in 2011." He added that the season is spread over 27 racing days with over 200 races.
Jain said that despite the economic slowdown and cut-down in marketing budgets across the board by several corporates, the club has attracted record sponsorships this time also, with contributions of over Rs 1.25 crore.
"Each weekend will feature a sponsored/graded race as has been the norm for the past several seasons. In addition, the season will also see classic, grade 1 races such as the Nanoli Stud sponsored Pune Derby and McDowell Signature Indian St Leger, scheduled for October 14 and September 30, respectively," he added.
He said that last year, the Indian St Leger race returned to its rightful place in Pune, which has been its traditional home. "Permanently shifted back to Pune since the last season, this last of the Indian classics will give the season an added dimension and is sponsored with Rs 2 million," Jain said.
The Derby Weekend, scheduled for October 13, will feature Oktoberfest, being conducted since the last two years. The RWITC, in association with Indo-German Chamber of Commerce, will present the event, which features a live band from Germany playing the Oktoberfest tune, among other things. The season will also 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.
The RWITC is also endeavouring to gain recognition in the international racing world. "Last week, we participated in the Asian Racing Conference in Turkey, where I made a formal presentation on behalf of the Turf authorities, thus showcasing the Indian side of racing. The RWITC Trophy will now be run at the Singapore Turf Club, as part of our objective to establish reciprocal arrangements with international racing clubs," said Jain.
He added that talks on the possibility of RWITC hosting an international jockeys' race in India in 2013 are also underway. "This event will have jockeys being bid for internally by 12 Indian sponsors," he added. Also, this season, the club has framed trophies in memory of three distinguished trainers - Bal Lagad, Nana Raghunath and Vinayak - who passed away last year.
Meanwhile, the performance incentive of horse owners has been enhanced from 20 to 25%. "The reimbursement of service tax on stakes, which is a benefit over Rs 3.5 crore annually to the owners, has also been approved. In addition, six races have been reserved for 'small owners', an experiment which was successful in Mumbai," he said.
On improvement in the race course here, Jain said that new starting gates and railings were added last year and the monsoon track has been extended by 400 metres this year.
"The extended monsoon track will be in operation in a few weeks. The popular LED screenwould once again be placed across the track," he said.