Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Time-honored Indian horse race courses founded in Colonial India

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Royal Calcutta Turf ClubPolka Cafe
With some exceptions, there is no developing or developed country in the world  that does not have  horse racing as an important sporting entertainment. Horse racing, as we know, is an equestrian performance sport, involving two or more jockeys riding horses over a  designated  distance for competition. The horse that comes first is the winner in that particular event. Horse racing is believed to be one of the most ancient of all sports and its  fundamental norms have remained  unchanged since its inception. It existed in many cultures across the globe - in ancient Greece, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Historically, equestrians developed  their skills through games and races, provided  entertainment for crowds and honed the excellent horsemanship that was very much needed on the battle fields to tackle enemies.  Countries world over have developed their own, horse race traditions and related rules, etc. Also included are the regulations with respect to selection of particular breeds, running over obstacles,  different distances,  different track surfaces and running in different gaits, weight of jockeys, etc. In the early stages, the horse races were held purely as a sporting event mainly for the purpose of entertainment on holidays. Over a period of time, economic interest and gambling became a major preoccupation, generating worldwide market worth more than $125 billion. In many countries this has led to the nexus between race clubs and the underworld.  
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 As for as India is concerned, horse racing  is just over 200 years old. Madras, now Chennai took the honor of conducting the  first racecourse in the country  in 1777, during the early colonial period under the EIC rule. Today, Horse racing in India is on a firm footing with well established organization taking care of  racing events and breeding (stud) industry. The Indian government has a racing authority to oversee the activities of racing clubs to curb malpractices. The racing event in India  is conducted on nine racetracks by six racing authorities. With stallions imported from all over the world, mainly Indian-breed horses are used in the races. The Indian Stud Book keeps records of all thoroughbred breeding activity in India. India has a mixture of both pool betting and traditional bookmakers. The six important and active  turf clubs in India are:
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 Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) - conducts racing in Mumbai from November to May and in Pune from July to November.
Sir Charles Forbes, G Hall, A Campbell and P Haddow started in 1800 Bombay Turf  Club in Byculla grounds  that  they acquired through the good offices of Dorabji Rustomji of Bombay. The marshy land was converted into a race course by the Club. 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. 

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.  In 1935  HRH King George V, Emperor of India, granted  permission to add the prefix “Royal” to the Club’s name.
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.
Mahalaxmi,race track.  Mumbai. en.wikipedia.org
Bangalore Turf Club - conducts racing at Bangalore in two distinct seasons - in summer from May to August and in winter from November to April.
The Bangalore Race Club. Tourmet
 In 1537 itself  horse racing could have evolved  in  Bangalore that was founded by Kepe Gowda 150 years ago but for wars among the Indian rulers that created an unfavorable situation to introduce equestrian sports.  The non-availability of suitable horses was  a different matter.  Brigadier General Sir Ormonde Winter was of the opinion that  the native "country-bred'' pony was hardy but unsuitable for racing.  Bangalore climate was favorable for rearing cavalry horses and on the outskirts of Bangalore what are now known as  Kalasipalayam  and Parvathipuram there were rows of stables belonging to Mysore cavalry. It was on December 1 1920 four stewards took the initiative and formed the Bangalore Turf Club. They were: Major R.H.O.D Paterson, Sir Leslie Miller, Major J.M Holmes and C.N Suryanarain Row. 

These gentlemen approved to form a race club in the city. There were to be 30 club members. The Stewards could elect an unlimited number of stand members. The admission charges for both types of memberships was Rs 20. Men were required to pay while entry was free for women. The Bangalore Race Club was formed in 1951 and started to run the Mysore races also.

Hyderabad Turf Club - conducts racing in Hyderabad where racing is held on the Monsoon Track from July until the end of October and on the Winter Track from November until February. Hyderabad usually races on Sundays and Mondays.
Hyderabad Turf Club, india www.123rf.com
Hyderabad Turf Club, india. view suggestions


It was the Nizam Asaf Jah VI in 1868 at Moula-Ali started horse racing in Hyderabad. Called Deccan races and later the Hyderabad races in the past  in 1886 the racing venue shifted to Malakpet by H.H Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, Nizam VI as he wanted the race course to be near his palace. Hyderabad Race Club started its operations in 1961 in Secunderabad and shifted to Malakpet in 1968 when the racing was revived under Hyderabad Race Club.

Royal Calcutta Turf Club, Kolkata -  conducts racing in Kolkata, with a main winter season from November to April and a monsoon season which runs from July until mid October.
Calcutta Turf Club race course stands before 1905 en.wikipedia.org

Royal Calcutta Turf club, Calcutta. wikimapia.org
During the British Raj,  the Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC), founded in 1847 in Calcutta ( Kolkata,), became the premier horse racing organization in India. It became  the governing body for almost all courses in the sub-continent, defining and applying the rules that governed the sport. During the height of colonial rule even after the direct administration by the Crown,  the races it organized were believed to be among the most  popular social events of the calendar, opened by the Viceroy of India. During the 1930s the Calcutta Derby Sweeps, organized by the club, was the largest sweepstakes in the world. Even today it is still an exclusive private club and still operates the Kolkata Race Course.

The Mysore Race Club - conducts regular season between mid-August and the end of October, as well as smaller summer and winter seasons. It is the most picturesque in the country on the foothills of the imposing Chamundi Hills.There are 250 members in the Mysore Race Club. It  all began in 1891 in Mysore  under the patronage of the Royal Family of Mysore and the  ruler was Chamaraja Wadiyar. The new facility of the race course  was built by Krishnaraja Wadiyar in 1906.The original location of the Race Course was near the present J.C.College.The present  race course was  established  in 1920 by H H Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, the then ruler of Mysore. The race covered a152-acre prime land.  The races were affiliated to the Royal Calcutta Turf Club.

The Mysore Race Club YouTube
The Bangalore Race Club was formed in 1951 and started to run the Mysore races also. The present race course is on leased from the Karnataka government from1977. There are 250 members in the Mysore Race Club. The racing track is 2,000 meters long and 30 meters wide. The straight is 500 meters.

Delhi Turf Club -  conducts racing at India's capital usually once a week from August until May, where racing is run under the patronage of RWITC. It was established in 1940.
Delhi Race Club. Club Times: India's First Club Aggre

www.drcraces.com
Madras turf Club - races  are conducted  in winter season at the main facility at Guindy and a spring/summer season at the hill station of Ooty, Nilgiri hills. First ever horse race was held at Madras race course in 1780. At that time Madras was a Presidency.
Madras Race Club The Hindu

First ever race meet in India. This was in 1780.madrasmusings.com

Chennai city (Old Madras) has one of the  oldest race course in India, and has the record of hosting  horse races for around 235 years with a brief hiatus  in between. in August, 1974 the Tamil Nadu government banned horse racing on moral grounds, however the High court stayed it and in 1996 the Supreme court struck down the state government's ban on horse racing. races resumed in 1978. Earliest racing goes as far back as 1777, however  there were some breaks in racing in the late 1700s on account of war between  the British and Hyder Ali who came almost close to Madras,  and then again in the 1870s. The Madras Race Club was established in 1837 and for this purpose parts of villages were allocated. The club functioned till 1875, when the Prince of Wales Edward VII visited Madras. Horse racing was revived in 1887, though it was a tough period  and  the club has been organizing the races since then. Again the racing was interrupted by the out break of WWI and India had to fight along with the British. Once the war came to an end, racing again resumed in 1919,
Ooty racecourse, Tamil nadu. www.thehindu.com

Yet another race course was built in Ooty to host races in summer. Subsequently the Madras Race Club became a turf.
Major races

 Most of the time, except for the summer when Bangalore races on the weekends and Mysore on Wednesdays, there is a seven-day race schedule all over the country and simulcasting takes place between all the clubs.
Cartoon SNAP
India has five 'Classic' races which parallel the original British classic races. The Indian 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas are run in December. The Indian Oaks is run at the end of January. The Indian Derby is run on the first Sunday of February and carries a purse of over ₹ 30,000,000. Lastly, the Indian St. Leger is run in September.[3] They are all run in Mumbai, apart from the St. Leger which is run at Pune.

The Invitation Weekend which rotates between the various turf authorities is held on the first weekend of March. This features a Group 1 race each for sprinters over 1200 metres, a race over a mile and a 3000 metre race for stayers. The best horses are invited from all over the country for these races. The showpiece event is open to Indian horses which are 4 years old and over, invited from all the turf authorities, and carries a winners prize of ₹ 10,000,000.  

The Bangalore Derby is held on the second Sunday of July in Bangalore every year. It is sponsored by Kingfisher. Invitation cup and associated races sprinter,stayer,Super mile is rotational, Hyderabad 2014,Calcutta 2013 Bangalore 2012, Bombay 2011 and this year is RWITC' Mumbai,s Turn, is run over 2400 meters was for only 4 years old only were eligible but from 2014 onward it has been changed to elder horses also.
Famous horses


Indian horses have made their mark on the international arena. Mystical won two races at the Dubai Racing Carnival. Saddle Up was the best horse in training on the Malayasia / Singapore circuit and won the Tunku Gold Cup as well as running second in the Singapore International Cup. Southern Regent, won twice in England when way past his prime at the age of 9. Beat It Dude was one of the highest rated horses in South Korea in 2008. Astonish was a Class 1 winner in Hong Kong. Indian Government restrictions dampened the participation of Indian horses  abroad. 

Ref:

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_racing_in_India
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysore_Race_Course
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyderabad_Race_Club