Pune racing from Friday

Jul 18, 2018, 07:48 IST | Prakash Gosavi

No wonder the race club, in their press note, when comparing the upcoming season with the previous year's, has chosen to mention the stakes money increase of mere Rs 33 lakh (from 7.83 to R8.16 crore) as a "highlight" of the season

Pune racing from Friday
Representational picture

The prospectus for the forthcoming Pune monsoon racing season is out, and as expected, there is nothing to cheer about. The fortunes of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC)--as also that of the sport--have been damaged beyond repair, thanks to the 28 percent GST, which has dried up the betting pools all over India. Unless the government realizes it has killed a goose that could have laid golden eggs, and corrects course, the sport's future remains bleak.

No wonder the race club, in their press note, when comparing the upcoming season with the previous year's, has chosen to mention the stakes money increase of mere Rs 33 lakh (from 7.83 to 8.16 crore) as a "highlight" of the season, not realizing that with the number of racing days increased from 24 to 26, the average purses per day and per race will actually go down.

Be that as it may, the monsoon racing program begins on Friday, July 20, and ends on Sunday, October 28. There will be 26 days of racing during the 13-week period, ten of which will be special days in aid of various charitable institutions (see box, Charity: At home and abroad).

The two Gr 3 races that traditionally serve as reliable pointers to the form of promising three-year-olds--namely, the F D Wadia Trophy and the S A Poonawalla Million--are scheduled for Aug 25 (Sat) & Sep 16 (Sun) respectively. The plum of the season, the Gr 1 Pune Derby, will be run on Oct 14 (Sun). The prime race of the season may go without a sponsor for the first time in more than two decades after Nanoli stud, its long time sponsor, backed out two years ago.

Charity: At home and abroad

Collectively, the five turf authorities in India, operating nine racetracks and conducting about 300 days of racing in a year, contribute only a few crores to the cause of social charity.

On the other hand Hong Kong, a small city-state which operates only two racetracks and conducts only 80+ race days in a year, donated HK $7.6 billion (Rs 6,500 crore) last year alone to social charities.

The difference lies in the tax structure. The HKJC deducts only 17.5% on its major pools, whereas the Indian race clubs are forced to charge at irrational levels (between 35 to 53 percent) from their pools, thanks to the 28% GST level. If the GST is brought down to 12%, then the Indian race clubs can add 5.5% as their commission to make it as attractive as Hong Kong, and thereby earn more money for all--themselves, the government and the social charities, creating a win-win situation for all.

Pune races 2018

July: Friday, 20th; Thursday, 26th, Friday, 27th.

August: Saturday, 4th; Sunday, 5th; Saturday, 11th; Wednesday, 15th; Sunday, 19th; Friday, 24th; Saturday, 25th, Friday, 31st.

September: Saturday, 1st; Friday, 7th; Saturday, 8th; Saturday, 15th; Sunday, 16th; Saturday, 22nd; Sunday, 23rd; Friday, 28th; Saturday, 29th.

October: Friday, 5th; Saturday, 6th; Saturday, 13th; Sunday, 14th (Pune Derby); Saturday, 27th; Sunday, 28th.

(Total 26 days)

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