Pune: After a gap of three months, racing returns to Western India, with the start of the Pune Meeting 2016 on July 28. Pune has a special old world charm and the delightful monsoon weather to enjoy racing at its best.
24 DAYS OF EXHILIRATING SPORT
It will be a shortened season this year, with 24 days of racing, as against 27 last year. Two week days have been cut in July, and because of Diwali, there will be no racing on the last weekend of October.
ADVERTISED PRIZE MONEY
The advertised prize money is 8. 31 crore as against 9. 31 crore in 2015. On a per day average, the stakes are on par with last season. However, after taking into account divided races and performance bonus, the actual pay-out will be in excess of 11 crore.
As always, the Club has done well in attracting a host of sponsors to support its racing program. Total contributions are 94.5 lakhs, which is higher than last year’s 89.5 lakhs. In addition, graded and million races are 17, as against 15 last year.
THE BIG RACE DAYS
The highlight of the season will be The Pune Derby, which this year has a new first time sponsor in Kingfisher Ultra, from the stable of United Breweries. This brand was the co-sponsor of this year’s Indian Derby, and we are delighted that they have come on board for the monsoon Derby at Pune, scheduled for October 16th.
The Derby Weekend will also feature the most popular Oktoberfest, in association with the Indo German Chamber, and with Ultra as the main sponsor, racegoers can look forward to a true Beer Fest over the two days.
THE INDIAN ST LEGER
The last and longest of the Indian classics, The Indian St Leger, has now returned to its original home base of Pune. We have a first time sponsor in Gourmet Renaissance, and a huge Festival is being planned along with the mega race. Bangalore has now made its St.Leger open to older horses, as in the UK, and the RWITC Stewards will deliberate whether we should follow suit, or keep the Indian Triple Crown format unchanged.
ARMY DAY AT THE RACES
The Club’s association and dependence on the Local Military is well known. We do our best to maintain goodwill with the LMA, and have a new GOC in C, General Rawat in command. We hope to build on our relationship and the Southern Command Cup race day with the Army regalia and participation, will once again be one of the season highlights.
FIRST TIME CONTRIBUTORS
The RWITC prides itself in drawing new blood each year to support racing, and we have first time entrants at Pune in The SRS Group, Sound Factor, Gourmet Renaissance, Kingfisher Ultra and Eureka Forbes. This is impressive for a short season.
MEDIA AND HOSPITALITY PARTNERS
The RWITC has always viewed the media and hospitality as its partners in the promotion of the sport. In the field of media, we have Pune Mirror and Radio One, and in hospitality we have first time associates in Blue Frog and Novotel Hotels, which will keep the buzz at a high decibel all through the season.
Tattersalls of the UK, will be our only international sponsor. Our traditional Irish partners will be absent just for this season, as they exhausted their budgets with their support to the Asian Racing Conference. Tattersalls will sponsor the only two year old race of the season, which will also be the first million for this age group anywhere in the country in the new racing year 2016-17.
SOCIAL MEDIA and LIVE STREAMING
We hope to stamp our presence with continuous updates on our Twitter and Facebook pages, bring out a new look Hoof Print, and are looking at tie ups to bring a new dimension to our live streaming on rwitc.com. The Committee has increased subscription charges for live streaming to Rs 10,000 per annum, as a revenue raising measure, but we hope to compensate this by improved content. We also will feature a new look advertising campaign and have for the first time a distinctive logo for the Pune season.
We made CSR a huge focus area for the RWITC with extraordinary tie ups withThe Rotary Foundation and Lions Club, to name just two. At Pune, The Threptin Fillies’ and Mares Stakes Day, shifted this year to October will feature an association with The Indian Red Cross, and many such associations with NGOs are under discussion.
The popular LED screen will once again bring live action just across the track, a small portion of the Second Deck of the main Grand Stand will be air conditioned for use of owners, the existing stand diagonally across the Paddock is now air conditioned for use of members/ owners and additional seating has been provided to the General Public areas. The inner sand track is refurbished. The rainfall has been good and the track is looking a verdant green with an appreciable growth in the grass. The monsoon track is expected to ensure no cancellations due to rain.
DECLINING HORSE NUMBERS
With the declining foal crop from a high of 1902 in 2011, to just 1280 in 2016, the number of horses in Western India have also come down. As of today there are just 1207 horses in Pune as against 1333 at the same time last year. This has eased the perennial problem of stables at Pune, and while fields may be smaller, at least they may be more manageable with less crowding.
CALENDAR OF LEISURE EVENTS
We have believed in promoting our racing weekends with top class leisure events. Lined up are the Oktoberfest on Derby Weekend, the Hello Awards on the St Leger weekend, Blue Frog at the races on the eve of Independence Day, a Blue Frog evening with live music and comedy at the Turf Club House to give you days of fashion and style on the Radio One and Panchshil days and much more as we go along a packed Calendar.
PR AND EVENT MANAGEMENT
The tireless efforts of Jehan Sataravala of Jaws Events and Tushar Joshi of Hundred Percent PR will ensure the sport remains centre stage for Puneites and we keep drawing the numbers to the sport and kudos to the RWITC Officials for doing everything possible to bring a trouble free season to the fraternity.
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