Yesterday, Mumbai’s racing season got off to a start with the dust of hooves at the Royal Western India Turf Club’s (RWITC) headquarters, the Mahalaxmi racecourse. From today, it will be 43 days of racing spread across a little over five months.
The chairman of the RWITC, Zaravary Poonawalla, and the committee held a curtain-raiser conference about the Mumbai season on Wednesday evening. One point they repeatedly stressed is that the season is a seminal one for Mumbai, given that the Asian Racing Conference (ARC) is taking place in January 2016, when racing officials and honchos from across the world will congregate in Mumbai for debate and discussion on the sport, exchange ideas and talk about its future. Many racing centres are battling the challenge of dwindling attendance at the racecourse, and this is a problem that needs to be addressed at some length.
The media too, was urged to highlight the positives that the club has achieved, rather than focus on RWITC controversies. It is vital that the club committee, always fractious and divided, shows a strong, united front this season. While debate and dissension is healthy, infighting and petty squabbling is not on.
The RWITC has been embroiled in many unsavoury controversies. In earlier elections, letters sent to the RWITC voter base were particularly malicious in discrediting some candidates. Slanging matches between rivals and selective bits of information are leaked to the media, now part of the whole circus. Since we are past the elections now, and the club has a slew of events, along with the ARC, coming up next year, let us see the club putting its best hoof forward.
Focus on bringing huge crowds to the course, better facilities for punters and, of course, clean and fair racing. This can only be done through unity and a common vision. Every citizen, a stakeholder in different ways of the green emerald of SoBo, will be keen that the club is shown in the best light when the world’s racing powers descend on Mahalaxmi. More power to an RWITC that stands and speaks as one.