After successfully holding the 50 edition of The Indian Turf Invitation Cup during the latter part of the Winter Season, and after a break of almost seven weeks, The Bangalore Turf Club is once again spruced-up and ready for the commencement of the Summer Season on Saturday, 19th May, 2012. A delayed monsoon has pushed back the entire programme by a week. Occasional showers since the beginning of the month, coupled with regular sprinkling of water by the authorities, has ensured a perfect platform for racing. The track is looking immaculate and it will be no surprise if it withstands the pounding of hooves over the next three months. With almost a hundred outstation horses arriving to participate in the action, the competition is bound to be intense during this period.
The BTC is perhaps the only Race Club in the country that schedules a "prospectus meeting" before each season. Racing officials meet with representatives of the Owner's and Trainer's Association’s and seek their suggestions before drafting the final prospectus. Stake money, norms for participation of outstation horses, incentives to small owners, labour related issues and licensing of new professionals, are some of the issues that were discussed at this year's meeting. The Stewards agreed to make a substantial increase in the total stakes in summer. Similarly, incentives for small owners were also enhanced. With regard to participation of visiting horses, it was confirmed that they would not be eligible to race in the lowest class. The syces issue, which had reared it's head prior to the Invitation Cup, was also discussed. Some positive steps are being taken to resolve this tangle, and an early solution to this problem looks more than possible. The BTC has decided to increase the number of licensed trainers from 35 to 40. This step is being taken to infuse fresh talent into this profession, as also, to give an opportunity to those who have been waiting in line for the last few years. The Kingfisher Derby, Bangalore is scheduled to be held on the 15th of July. The stake money this year is going to be the highest ever in the history of this event. Just like the past many years, final entrants are once again expected to sweeten the pot.
A strong outstation contingent started arriving in Bangalore after the 1st of May. Leading trainers from Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata have chosen to bring their top horses to this centre. A majority of them are three year olds that will be targeted at the Summer Classics. The fields for these races are bound to be large. On all known form, Mumbai imports Days Best and Hachiko stand tall amongst their peers. By dominating the finish of The Poonawalla Multimillion, this pair showed that at this stage of their careers, they are better than the rest. On numerous occasions, it has been difficult to compare the local runners against their outstation challengers. With the official handicapper announcing the ratings for raced three year olds stationed at Bangalore, the picture this year is a bit clearer. Super Storm heads the charts with a rating of 62, and Southern Opinion is second with 58. If one was to have a closer look at Southern Opinion's form at Mumbai, it will be easy to decipher that the Bangalore based youngsters this year are not as good as those stationed in Western India. Days Best has shown that he is even better over a longer trip, and it is more than likely that this Kunigal Stud bred gelding will be the one to beat this season. However, there are quite a few horses that are late bloomers, and in racing you can never foretell when a new star emerges from such a pack.
A recent budget proposal in Karnataka resulted in a steep hike in the Government levies on bookmakers. As a result of this huge increase, the bookmakers decided to close shop after the 1st of April. Since that day, punters at Bangalore have had no option but to bet at the totalizators. Since the deductions made by the Club have been rising with each passing year, the dividends have become poorer and poorer. It makes little sense to back a 2/1 runner at the tote for a return of less than evens. The dividends on first and second favourites are almost pathetic. Ever since the bookmakers strike, the rush at the tote windows has increased, but the Club has failed to open more terminals. This has not only resulted in a loss of business, but also, caused heartburn amongst those who failed to get a ticket on their chosen winner. This is one issue that needs to be addressed immediately, and it is hoped that something will be done about it before the commencement of this season.
The official website of The Bangalore Turf Club www.bangaloreraces.com is being revamped, and racing patrons can look forward to a more modern and informative site in the coming weeks. The most interesting aspect of this development will be the live streaming of races. The BTC has confirmed that for the convenience of followers of Bangalore racing all across the world, this facility would be available on its website from the first day of the summer season.