Royal Western India Turf Club Limited
The Royal Western India Turf Clubs Internationally famous Mahalakshmi
race course is amongst the best in the world and is, understandably, a showpiece of
"Urbs Prima In Indis". It was created out of the marshy land known as
Mahalakshmi Flats. It took years of maticulous planning, a great deal of money and much
industry to make the race course what it is today, compared to what it was when the scene
of racing in Bombay was shifted from Byculla Club Ground to Mahalakshmi in 1883, over 100
years ago. It was in the year, 1880, the Bombay Turf Club was established.
The race course which
is of 2400 metres with a straight chute to enable races upto 1600 metres to be run with
only the home run, is a show piece is evident from the fact that visiting dignitaries,
including crowned heads, fit a visit to it into their very crowded and demanding
schedules. The red carpet has been laid out for, amongst several others, Queen Elizebeth
II of England, the King of Saudi Arabia and the Shah of Iran, all of whom arrived in stae
in lengthy motorcades traversing the main track and presented trophies. The Queen of
England is a horse lover with wide interests in English racing and breeding and her
accolade which was spontaneously and gracious offered is something to be cherished and
maintained in the archives of the Club.
The Club is
administered by a committee of nine members who are elected from amongst an by those
members of the Club with voting rights. The Government of Maharashtra, under whose licence
the Club operates, nominates two members to the Committee. Racing affairs are supervised
by five Stewards of the Club, who are elected from amongst and by the nine elected
Committee members. The Government nominates two members and from time to time other club
members are nominated by the Committee to function as Stewerds of the meetings.
The Club controls racing in
Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi, the operations at the first two centres being directly under
its control. In order to ensure fair and clean raising several aids have been introduced
through the years. The Club has the most advanced starting stalls, has photo-finish
cameras both in Bombay and Pune and has closed circuit television which captures the
action on the track from more than one angle. As the Clubs officials can view these tapes
as often as they desire, they are a valuable aid to restricting malpractice in the course
of a race. In addition, there is an electronic timer so that the timing of a race is
accurate and devoid of human error.
The public also benefits from the closed circuit TV. Every race is shown live on screens
installed at vantage points at every enclosure. A replay is shown immediately after the
"All Clear" has been sounded and, in the case of an objection, the part of the
race, which was the subject of the objection is shown three times, once from a rear view.
In addition, late commers to the race benefit by the replay tapes of all the days races
after the last race is over.
Mumbai-Pune betting totalisator was set in 1967 and all voice announcement heard at the
active centre are relayed to the ghost centre. Further progress was made in 1974, when a
pioneering effort inter-state inter-venue betting operations was made by accepting betting
in Bombay and Pune on the races held in Bangalore. The idea caught on rapidly and now
being used in other centres. The computers are connected by a Data Grade Circuit and an
exchange of summary information between Bombay and Pune is made on all bets placed. Thus,
the display of the latest approximate dividends on electronic display boards and the CCTV
network has been made possible.
The Club took the
pioneering step of introducing classic races for Indian breds in 1943. The Classics were
patterned after those in England. The 1000 and 2000 Guineas and the Derby were introduced
The Clubs celebrated its Diamond Jubilee as been registered under the Companies Act, 1976
by introducing the RWITC Ltd. Invitational Race which has since become a heady annual and
is now run in Pune.
Today there are about 1600 horses in training in Mumbai and they are sheltered in the
Clubs permanent stables at Mahalakshmi. Such a happy situation however does not obtain in
Pune where many horses have to be sheltered in temporary stables.
The Appelate body consists of six members duely elected and one member nominated by the
government. Any licencee aggrieved as a result of any action by the Stewerds can approach
the board for redressel by preferring an appeal. The increased number of veteranians in
the employ of the Club, the insistence that those aspiring to be trainers first work as
assistance with the established schoolers and to expand the activities of the Apprentice
Jockeys School which has been in existence for half a century.
As the enthusiasm for racing grows, as more owners, more
professionals and more horses come into racing, the demands on the club increase
proportionally. The RWITC is fully in tune with developments and keep pace, stride for
stride, with them. It has been a continous ongoing process and it will continue to be so.