Horse racing will return to Mahalaxmi today. The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) has framed a small, seven-race card for the opening day, but you would be way off the mark if you try to judge the quality of racing based on the inaugural day’s card.

Mumbai is a premier racing center and home to the prestigious Indian Classics, so the quality of horseflesh and racing is obviously the best in the country.

Add to that 20 days of night racing (or evening racing, as the club has chosen to call it) in a 43-day racing season that will extend over more than five months, and you can be sure the Mahalaxmi racecourse will be one of the most happening places on Mumbai’s social calendar this winter.

The night racing begins in January next year with four days, followed by three days in February, five in March, and all the eight racing days of April.

The richest race of the season of course will be the Gr 1 Indian Derby (thankfully, the United Spirits Ltd hasn’t backed out as announced earlier) to be run on Feb 7, 2016, and likely to carry a purse in excess of Rs 3 crore.

The richest juvenile race will, as usual, be the Gr 1 Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million, with prize money in excess of R1.5 crore, and it will be run three weeks after the Derby (Feb 28, 2016).

Mid-day trophy buzz
The mid-day trophy, high in glamour quotient thanks to some Bollywood superstar always gracing the occasion to give away the prize, is slated between the above two high profile races, on Sunday, Feb 14, 2016.

The mid-day trophy card will also feature two Gr 2 races in the Dr SC Jain Sprinters’ Championship & Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Eclipse Stakes of India, besides the Dr Jagjit Singh Million, named after the famous ghazal singer who was also a passionate
horse lover.