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‘Green Carpet’ Rolls Out as Pune 2011 Gets All Set

By Mahendra Mallya | 15 Jul 2011 | PUNE


At The Pune racecourse is all geared up for the start of a fresh season scheduled from Thursday, 21st July 2011. The 27-day racing season is a day short compared to the last one, but richer in terms of stakes offered. The season has attracted a string of new sponsors, with Vascon, Ista Hotels, Threptin and Tasttersalls being the first timers at the racecourse as sponsors.

The savvy Chairman of the RWITC, Mr Vivek Jain was at his oratorical best as he addressed the media, underscoring the highlights of the season. The Nanoli Pune Derby, The Indian St Leger and the SA Poonawalla Multi-Million stand out as the top races of the season. The prize money for the season is at an all-time high for Pune, hovering around the Rs 7.5 crore mark. “The RWITC scales a new landmark in contributions from the sponsors for a single Pune Season. A whopping Rs 1.3 crore comes in form of sponsorships this season - a healthy 25% increase over the last season. Every weekend will see either a graded or a sponsored race,” said Mr Jain. So each weekend will ensure high-end activity and zestful atmosphere, not to mention the excitingly close competition on the turf.

The Indian St Leger, Grade I (September 25th) returns to Pune for good. This race was shifted to Mumbai in the ‘90s as it was the final leg of the sponsored ‘Indian Triple Crown’. While it remains the same, it has rightfully returned to Pune and surely is a big occasion to mark the end of the Indian Classic scene on a high! The race is sponsored by the McDowell, contributing Rs 2 Million and will be run on the last Sunday of September.

The Nanoli Stud Farm brings the Nanoli Pune Derby, Grade I (Oct 9th) for the 15th year on the trot. Ocean And Beyond had established his credentials in this race winning it with a good effort from the fast-finishing Berlusconi. The day will also see the Dhunjibhoys sponsor a sprint Million marking the day for spectacular test of classy stamina and speed in the two high-profile races over varying distances.

The popular ‘Oktoberfest’ will add to the festivities of the Derby weekend and the revelling will go well past the racing hours. The Indo-German Chamber of Commerce’s initiative last year was met with great enthusiasm by the masses and the ethnic German Beer, cuisine, music and dance would be a fitting value-added entertainment for the biggest weekend of racing.

The lead-up to the Classics will feature some top Multi-Million races such as the SA Poonawalla (Sept 18th), the FD Wadia (Aug 14th) and the General Rajendrasinghji (Aug 27th). There will also be Million/Multi-Million races for older horses. And for the very first time in Indian racing, a ‘Million’ race is set aside for the two-year-olds. This is a great opportunity for debutants to pick rich stakes right from the outset of their careers.

A huge plus for the RWITC is the presence of international sponsorships at Pune. The Irish Thoroughbreds, Goffs, Coolmore Stud, Keeneland and Tattersalls will all make their presence felt during the season with their sponsored races. The Indian markets do have a great potential and this augurs well for Indian racing and the quality of stock coming in to racing in India.

O Hotels will continue to be the hospitality partners being joined by Ista Hotels. The media partners are Radio One, DNA and ET Now. The Club has thoughtfully instituted the Fourth Estate Trophy naming two trophies – Pegasus and Eugened Avoine, in memory of noted racing journalists.

The Club’s innovative endeavour – Tribe@Truf will make its presence felt at Pune first time this season. Three non-racing events have been planned to entertain both the racing fraternity and the residents of Pune. The RWITC website perches right on the top among the racing Clubs’ sites. “We have redesigned the homepage to give it a slicker, modern look. We will continue to add features and style to make the site of international standard. We are the first in the country to provide live streaming of races, now we are considering offering this facility on subscription only, to meet the costs,” Mr Jain added.

“After importing the world’s best starting stalls during the Mumbai season, the Club will replace the track and paddock railings with high quality ones to match the best there is. This will enhance the safety for the horses and add to the ambience of the picturesque racecourse. The large LED screen will be in place across the track. The stabling issues have more or less been sorted out and a plan to upgrade the Turf Club House is on the anvil,” stated Mr Jain.

The Pune Racing Season has always had a special touch to it. The rains and the weather make it a perfect weekend of holiday and entertainment blended with high-quality racing. Whether you are looking for hardcore engaging racing, or just seeking a relaxed weekend, Pune is the destination that will be rewarding to everyone. The racing, however, is the biggest draw!