Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Royal Western India Turf Club, Mumbai founded by the British

Mahalaxmi Race Course (Royal Western India Turf Club) Mumbai. Foursquare
 
Mahalaxmi,race track.  Mumbai. en.wikipedia.org

 It was under the East India company rule, the British officials took a keen initiative and started turf clubs in those power centers under their control. The aim was  to spend their week ends and holidays in a relaxing mood. It was equally a social event where the members of the elite could socialize, exchange pleasantries  and indulge themselves in gossiping to their heart's content. For the young Europeans, it was a good opportunity to pick up a female companion. The Europeans could attend such racing events with their families which was not possible when they went hiking, hunting in the jungles, mountain climbing, etc because such out door activities away from human settlements were risky and dangerous. 
Indian Derby race at Royal Western India Turf Club onGetty Images

100 years ago. The Pune Racecourse. Mid-Day
 The Royal Western India Turf Club has a history spanning just over two centuries and takes the credit of being one of the oldest turf clubs in the world. It conducts racing at Mumbai's Mahalaxmi Racecourse (from November to April), including the McDowell's Indian Derby in February and Pune (from July to October).
Byculla club 1822. Bombay Photo Images[ Mumbai]
On  10–11 January 1798 a  two-day race meeting  was held in Bombay after raising funds via an appeal in local newspapers with two plates run in heats. Breakfast was, it is reported,  served on the high grounds opposite Colonel Jones’ house and Captain G. Hall saluted the last race with fifteen guns.  Sir Charles Forbes, G Hall, A Campbell and P Haddow started in 1800 
Byculla Club, Bombay. Tara Deshpande
Bombay Turf Club in Byculla Club Grounds  that  they acquired through the good offices of Dorabji Rustomji of Bombay. In the early stages, the balcony of the clubhouse was the only place used as a private stand for the honorable Members. Soon  the name was changed to the Western India Turf Club. It was in 1819 the first horse race  was held in Pune with a 100-guinea cup donated by the British Resident and later Governor of Bombay, the Hon. Mr Mountstuart Elphinstone, as the trophy – one year after the end of the Last Anglo-Maratha War and the Peshwa's reign.  In 1830 the Pune Race Course was built on the present site in the Cantonment near the Empress Garden.  In 1870,  the Byculla Club Purse  came into being; prizes were given  for the first time. Racing continued to be held at Byculla almost through out the 19th century  and in 1883,  the venue was shifted over to Mahalakshmi on a  marshy land made available by Sir Cusrow N Wadia, industrialist and businessman. It was reclaimed and corrected to be fit for horse racing as the water table was closer to the ground.  One Major J E Hughes was in charge of supervision and building of the race course. 


The racing track in Mahalaxmi  is oval shaped with 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) straight chute, spread over approximately 225 acres (0.91 km2; 0.352 sq mi) of open land in the prime area of Mumbai city. It was created out of a marshy land known as Mahalakshmi Flats as mentioned above. Built in 1883 and modeled on the Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne, it is spread over land facing the sea. Today it is on lease from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to Royal Western India Turf Club which runs the racecourse. The Grandstand, off the course, is a designated heritage structure.  The racecourse has a helipad open for civilian use in South Mumbai. British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran performed at the racecourse on 1 March 2015 as part of his X World Tour.


During this period in 1880s, the performance of  club was not good enough and was well eclipsed by the Calcutta Turf club because of their experience and better organization to attract the members. The racing scenario changed only in the 20th century and RWITC overshot the Calcutta Turf club.  Between 1886 - 1897,  an important agreement  was reached with the Calcutta Turf Club “that no course in India be allowed to race under Rules without being controlled by either of the two Turf Authorities”. The first running of the Eclipse Stakes of India in 1923 gave Bombay a race to rival the Viceroy’s Cup. New stands were commissioned in 1925.  Yet another milestone was in 1935  HRH King George V, Emperor of India, granted  permission to add the prefix “Royal” to the Club’s name. In 1936 Electric clock  was installed for the first time  followed by the opening of the Apprentice Jockeys’ School in1938 and it was  under the guidance of the Stipendiary Stewards of the Club. In 1942 - 43 The Indian classics was introduced, restricting participation  of horses bred in India. Princess Beautiful, a Maharaja of Baroda filly on the Indian 1000 Guineas, the Indian 2000 Guineas and the Indian Derby and 21 years later the Indian Turf Invitation Cup was introduced and the venue happened to be  Mahalakshmi.
Pune racecourse, Pune.Sakal Times

Race Course (Camp, Pune).en.wikipedia.org

Pune city is just, three and half hours drive south-east of  Mumbai (Bombay),  where the Royal Western India Turf Club conducts its racing. It is a monsoon track  with  the main Club House. The track is different and has a shorter run-in, with the variable underfoot conditions making the sporting events exciting. Main events take place in the Summer. the highlight is many horses from Calcutta take part in the events. Pune Race Course  located in Pune Cantonment, western India was built  in 1830 and it covers 118.5 acres (48.0 ha) of land under the control of 
the Indian Army
Ref:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pune_Race_Course

http://www.rwitc.com


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahalaxmi_Racecourse