Calcutta Derby on March 1
The Royal Calcutta Turf Club confirmed that the Calcutta Winter Season will kick off on New Year's Day — traditionally the day when socialites of this metropolis make it a point to be present at the racecourse, adding glamour to the afternoon's proceedings.
Though the commencement of the season has been delayed by nearly two months due to circumstances beyond their control, chairman of the Stewards, Cyrus Madan is confident that it will be a season to remember — for more reasons than one.
A 24-raceday prospectus has been framed, concluding on April 17. All five classics will be conducted, with the piece de resistance, The Calcutta Derby, to be run on Sunday, March 1. With the help of Eveready Industries, RCTC expect to put up Rs 60 lakh prize money for the Derby, which is an all-time high. That is well and truly incredible, considering the setbacks the Club has suffered in the past couple of months. The total stake-money for the season will be a shade over Rs 6 crore. That too is a pretty impressive figure.
The other classic days are Feb 1 (1000 Guineas), Feb 7 (2000 Guineas), Feb 14 (Calcutta Oaks) and March 21 (St Leger). The Queen Elizabeth II Cup and Calcutta Million are scheduled to be run on March 28.
Special advisor Robin Corner confirmed that about 80 horses will be racing fit by the opening day. By the second raceday on January 11, that number is expected to be doubled. Eight races, including a Class I race is expected to be framed for New Year's Day. However, two-year-olds will have to wait a while before they can race.
About 24 trainers will be vying for honours during the season with the powerhouses of Vijay Singh and Daniel David holding centre-stage as usual. Though Corner will no longer be seen at Hastings, the return of Bharath Singh should effectively plug the void left by the current advisor to RCTC.
Madan does not see any hitches before the first of January races that cannot be ironed out. "After all, the commencement of racing will be beneficial to the entire racing fraternity. Thus the trainers have been advised to sort out any impending issues with their helpers, so that there is no further disruption to the already delayed commencement of the season," he added.