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By Usman Rangila | 27 Jul 2022 | PUNE

As incessant rains lashed the city in the week gone by, the original plan of the hosts, Royal Western India Turf Club, to start the Pune racing season 2022 on time were scuttled. The season was delayed by a week and will now take off on Thursday 28th July. For the first time after 3 years, horse-racing patrons will get the first-hand experience of live racing at the Pune racecourse tomorrow. Following the Covid-19 outbreak, horse-racing in Western India was disrupted due to the restrictions imposed by the state and central government in the wake of the pandemic. Later on, although RWITC conducting racing briefly both at Mumbai and Pune, race-goers were mostly denied access to the racecourse.

That said, the RWITC seems all set to roll out an 18-day long racing season which has on offer stake money in the excess of Rs 9 crore, which the club claims is the highest on offer on per racing day basis. The turf club may have been forced to curtail its racing season for obvious reasons but it is making sure that the sport is not shorn of the thrill and excitement associated with it. The club has designed an action-packed season with long list of traditional racing events on the cards including the Pune Derby and the Indian St. Leger.

It is also learnt that, under the aegis of the Turf Authorities of India, RWITC will partner other turf clubs and is likely to start accepting totalisator (Tote) bets on a single platform (National Tote) next month. This much awaited move should prove to be a boon for the cash-strapped turf clubs especially those who have seen their tote collections drop to abysmal levels in the last decade or so.

The number of horses in training at RWITC has dwindled in the last few years but the club’s administration has taken a pragmatic approach towards this issue and opened its doors for the participation of outstation horses to ensure that there is no dearth of competition on the race-track. Several professionals like Sheraz K Sunderji, Adhirajsingh Jodha etc., who were forced to shift base to racing centres down south following the uncertainty surrounding the sport’s conduct in Western India, have returned to their home centre which should restore the sport’s quality and competitive quotient.

It’s worth mentioning here that the RWITC has received admirable support from Zavaray Poonawalla, who has voluntarily agreed to give adequate financial backing needed by the club for the smooth conduct of horse-racing at Pune. Equally remarkable are the contributions to be made by Khushroo N Dhunjibhoy and his associates as also Cyrus Poonawalla. Significant contributions are also being made by members of the turf club and the racing fraternity in the form of race sponsorship.