Closed door opens new chapter for horse racing
Pune horse racing season may start without spectators, awaits government green light
Zavaray Poonawalla, chairman, Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) said that in a historic first, closed-door racing has been slated to commence at the Pune race course on August 23, 2020 subject to clearances from the Government of Maharashtra. He added, "Every effort is being made to obtain those." Closed door racing means that horse racing will take place, as usual on the track, but there will be no spectators. The races will be relayed on the turf club website, www.rwitc.com, where people can watch the day's action. This is akin to other sporting tourneys that are being played at sporting grounds during the COVID-19 season, but without spectators.
The plan is to have a 'dress rehearsal' on August 15, to gauge the feasibility and technicalities and make tweaks if needed. This will ensure absolute preparedness for August 23, the first day of the Pune season.
The stakes money will be 75 per cent of what it was in the latter part of the Mumbai season and the same of what it was in the last Pune season. Poonawalla said, "We are awaiting government permissions and are keeping our fingers crossed that they come on time in such a difficult period. Payments for watching these races online are still being worked out."
He further said, "We will, as the turf club, emerge stronger from this crisis. I do see a silver lining. With closed door races, we will join other centres across the world, in Hong Kong and Japan, for example, where closed door racing is taking place."
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