Mumbai racing set to kick off on Sunday

Updated: Nov 18, 2017, 15:38 IST | Prakash Gosavi

A small but competitive seven-race card on Sunday will usher in the most prestigious horse racing season of the country--the Mumbai 2017-18 campaign, to be conducted at the picturesque Mahalaxmi racecourse

A small but competitive seven-race card on Sunday will usher in the most prestigious horse racing season of the country--the Mumbai 2017-18 campaign, to be conducted at the picturesque Mahalaxmi racecourse. The premier racing action is also the most-looked-forward-to as it returns to the maximum city after a gap of more than six months. It is also a high-priority business for all top racing professionals--trainers and jockeys scattered all over India--who carefully plan the training schedule of their most promising three-year-old juveniles so as to peak them at the right time soon after they turn four, on the first Sunday of February to take a shot at the ultimate prize: the Indian Derby (Gr 1).

Horse racing action at Mahalaxmi. Pic/RS Gupta
Horse racing action at Mahalaxmi. Pic/RS Gupta

The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) has framed a compact, 39-day racing season this time. It begins on the third Sunday in November and ends on the third Sunday in April next year. Exactly 23 of the 39 days are slated as what is now popularly called as evening racing, which will be very kind to horses, especially in the sweltering heat of March and April 2018. Of the 39 race days, seven will be reserved as "special days" the proceeds of which will be donated to various charitable organisations based in Mumbai.

Sizable stakes
The prospectus published online by the race club lists 11.35 crore as stakes money for only 37 days. That's because the Derby weekend (Feb 3 & 4, 2018), the richest of the campaign, has not been included yet because of a sponsorship issue which, according to NHS Mani, secretary and CEO of RWITC, will be resolved soon. That may add another Rs 3 crore to the total prize money.

The Gr 1, Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million maintains its status as the richest juvenile race thanks to the Poonawalla stud farms contributing Rs 37 lakh. Dr Cyrus Poonawalla will also continue to sponsor the grade 1, Indian Oaks, carrying his late wife Villoo's name, donating Rs 25 lakh towards its stakes.

Trevor in, Sandesh out
Champion jockey Trevor Patel who gave a miss to the Pune season and chose to explore greener pastures in Autstralia is now back, and will be the most followed jockey thanks to his huge following. However, his battle with friend and arch rival Sandesh will have to wait for about two months as the latter is still recuperating from his injury, and is unlikely to make it to the saddle until January next year. Another piece of good news is that S Zervan, who was out of action for the longest time since breaking his leg, is now trotting horses in light work, and hopefully, will start riding sooner than later.

But the Mumbai racegoers will not miss classy riding action as many top trainers and high-profile owners will specially fly in reputed foreign riders for their stables.


Mumbai racing schedule 2017-18

Nov: Sunday, 19; Friday, 24; Sunday, 26; Thursday, 30.

December: Saturday, 3; Thursday, 7; Sunday, 10 (1000 Guineas); Thursday, 14; Sunday, 17 (2000 Guineas); Friday, 22; Sunday, 24; Thursday, 28; Sunday, 31.

January: Thursday, 4; Thursday, 11; Sunday, 14; Thursday, 18; Sunday, 21 (Oaks); Thursday, 25.

February: Saturday, 3; Sunday, 4(Derby); Sunday, 11 (Eclipse); Thursday, 15; Sunday, 18; Friday, 23; Sunday, 25 (PBMM); Wednesday, 28.

March: Thursday, 8; Sunday, 11; Thursday, 15; Sunday, 18 (Colts' & Fillies' championships) ; Friday, 23; Sunday, 25; Saturday, 31.

April: Sunday, 1; Saturday, 7; Sunday, 8; Saturday, 14; Sunday, 15.

(Total 39 days)

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