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By Mahendra Mallya | 17 Jul 2013 | PUNE


Mr Vivek Jain addressed a very well-attended press conference at the regal looking Turf Club House, Pune, amidst the verdant and picturesque surrounding of the Pune racecourse. Mr Jain in his usual forthright style was at his eloquent best, highlighting various additions and improvements for the forthcoming Pune racing season.

The Press conference began on a somber note, by observing a minute’s silence in memory of those who had los their lives in the recent Uttrakhand tragedy. Further, the RWITC has earmarked the proceeds from the inaugural weekend in aid of the victims of this tragedy.

The major additions/improvements include additional large framed LED screens at vantage points, making viewing of racing action convenient to all patrons. The main track has been converted into a monsoon track from 2000 meters to 1400 meters. It is envisaged that by next year, the entire race track will be a monsoon track.

In spite of the economic downturn in the present scenario, the amount of sponsorship has not decreased. Contributions of 1.10 crore are on par like last year. Every weekend will either have a sponsored or graded race which has been the trend for the past several years in western India.

In an innovative step, the committee has decided to award and reward the Champion sprinter, stayer, middle distance horse and a three-year-old taking part in the current season. Three races each has been set aside for each category and the champion horse has to run in all three of it’s category and win at least two to claim a bonus of Rs one million. This is certain to add zing and pep to competition.

In continuance of the earlier practice, the performance linked incentive has now been enhanced to 50% of the total advertised stakes, provided however, that the total stakes for that race do not exceed Rs 3.3 lakh.

Two additional races have been added for two year old juveniles and the total number of races for this category will be four including a million race.

The highlight of the season will be the Nanoli Stud Pune Derby (Gr1), the Signature Indian St Leger and those hardy annuals namely the PRA Independence Million and the Suresh Mahindra Trophy which at 3200 meters is the longest race in the country.

The season concludes on Sunday 27th October 2013 with the running of the Connolly’s Red Mills Million. Connolly’s will also sponsor Season’s awards for racing excellence on the same day.  This is the first time that the season’s awards will see an international sponsor.

After being the first to introduce live streaming on its website, the RWITC is on the threshold of launching that will not only air racing and other events, but also record and archive the footage of the social events, photo gallery, interviews, the CSR drives etc.

The conference concluded with a lively exchange of ideas which included a suggestion for a retirement home for horses. Commander Deepak Naik Chairman and Managing Director of Thevur Hamlet and a new sponsor, replying to a query  from Mr B A Engineer, secretary of the Club, hinted that he could perhaps give more thought to it come up with such a home for horses that retire from racing. A sumptuous luncheon marked the conclusion of the season opener.