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By Mahendra Mallya | 26 Jul 2016 | PUNE


Mr Vivek Jain, the go-getting Chairman of the Marketing & PR wing for the RWITC, unveiled the program of the forthcoming Pune Meeting addressing the media at the famed Turf Club House in Pune.

Mr Jain started off by highlighting that racing action comes alive after a gap of three months in western India. Dwelling upon the high points of the Mumbai season, Mr Jain was happy to state the success of the Asian Racing Conference and the Evening Racing during the last season.

“During my recent visits abroad, I met several international racing bigwigs who were highly appreciative of the manner in which the ARC was conducted by us. This was heart-warming and thoroughly satisfying,” said Mr Jain.

The Pune Season has always been eagerly awaited by patrons who look forward to racing resuming in western India after this long gap. The picturesque surroundings and the cooler climes add to the enjoyment and the thrill of the Sport of Kings. This season however, has been shortened by a few meetings and this season will see only 24 days of action-packed racing starting 28th July and culminating on the 22nd of October 2016.

Mr Jain explained that two meetings of July were axed due to the grave drought warnings by the Met department during April, when the all India race dates are finalized. “Our decision was based on a precautionary note. The last weekend of October was also foregone due to Diwali festival as most people prefer to spend the days with family. We intend to cover up the loss of these days during the Mumbai Meeting 2016-17,” explained Mr Jain.

This season also sees a host a new sponsors with Kingfisher Ultra coming aboard to sponsor the Pune Derby (Gr1). Kingfisher Ultra was also the sponsor of the Indian Derby 2016 along with USL as joint sponsors.

The other Indian Classic, the Indian St Leger (Gr1) sees a new sponsor as well. Gourmet Renaissance, the cuisine connoisseurs, plans to throw in a food carnival on the Leger day promising another mega day at the Pune racecourse.

“We have once again managed to attract several new sponsors and the total contributions amount to Rs 94.5 lakh which is marginally more than last year. In addition graded and million races are 17, two more than last season. The advertised prize money is Rs 8.31 Lakh as against 9.31 in 2015. However, on a per race day basis this is on par with last year. Nevertheless, taking into account the divided races and the performance bonus the actual payout would swell past Rs 11 crore,” informed by Mr Jain.

The Southern Command Cup has been a traditional race for decades and the Military display of various mock war drills, the flypast by choppers and Para-troopers et al at the centre of the racecourse has kept the patrons enthralled year after year. This year will be no different and the Military show is bound to be a riveting experience. “The Club has cordial relationship with the Army. I met the new GOC in command, General Rawat and he has assured the Club of complete support,” said Mr Jain.

On the Corporate Social Responsibility front, the RWITC is second to none and the recent tie-up with the Rotary and Lions Club in Mumbai was an overwhelming success. In Pune too, the Threptin Fillies’ & Mares’ Stakes day sees a collection drive with the Club making a substantial contribution to the Indian Red Cross Society. Owners, trainers, jockeys donate part of the stakes earned on he day towards this noble cause. The racing patrons too have opened their purses and the donation boxes kept for the purpose have seen a healthy contribution from the public. The Club is actively involved in several such charitable drives both in Mumbai and Pune.

The IGCC sponsored Oktoberfest will be a marked event during the Derby weekend. This will be a ‘Beer weekend’ as the Oktoberfest is famous for the German beer, German cuisine and traditionally authentic German music playing well past business hours. Add to that the Kingfisher Ultra beer and no one will be going home thirsty that particular weekend. Other major events will be the Hello Awards on the St Leger weekend. Blue Frog will leap on to the turf on the eve of the Independence Day bringing with it a musical and Comedy show at the Turf Club House. Fashion & style on Radio One day and first timers Sound Factor will bring the Sound Factor Videotheque and the best live concerts would be a treat to watch.

The Pune race track was re-laid last year extending the monsoon track right from the 2000 meter mark. The track looks lush and verdant. Pleased with the lush green turf, Estate Officer Mr Sohail Mohammed had a look of content as he spoke to indiarace exclusively. “We have had substantial rainfall recently measuring to a healthy 10 inches plus so there the track has received the nourishment it requires. The moisture in the atmosphere too gives it that extra zing and one look at the green top is enough to know that the horses are going to love to pound their hooves on this track,” said Sohail. Jockeys PS Chouhan and Dashrath Singh have had a feel of the track and they were happy with the track. The trainers have voiced their satisfaction of the working track as well.

Racing enthusiasts who opt to watch the Pune races live from the comfort of their homes/offices will have to brace themselves to pay an enhanced fee to live stream at Rs 10,000/- per annum or Rs 500/- per day. Mr Jain was quick to justify saying it was increased as a revenue raising measure and added that “We will also hope to compensate this by improved content and make it livelier with an anchor and several fillers to make it more interesting for the viewers.”

The season then is all set to roll out exciting racing action. Stalwarts such as Pesi Shroff, Malesh Narredu, Dallas Todywalla and the Pune champ Narendra Lagad will vie for top honours. The darling of the Pune crowd P Trevor will be sorely missed in the early part as he is still recovering from the wrist injury he sustained at Bengeluru. He is expected to put on his riding gear after mid-August. Top Jockeys A Sandesh, Dashrath Singh, S Zervan and PS Chouhan will be seen in their elements. All in all Pune racing season 2016 promises exciting action, classy leisure-events on the sides and amidst the gala, there is also a window to the good deed of responsible charity. A complete package for the season!