Studs race at night on the Mahalaxmi racecourse

Jan 08, 2016, 07:26 IST | Prakash Gosavi

Say cheers to a cocktail of equines and elegance at the Mahalaxmi racecourse, the green emerald of South Mumbai tomorrow

The concept of evening racing which started in April last year, as a bold experiment to revive the fortunes of a dying sport like horse racing, may turn out to be a real game changer, not only for the sport but also for Mumbai’s night life.

Also read: Silver lining for night racing at Mahalaxmi racecourse

Mahalaxmi is all things bright and beautiful for a carnival of evening racing. Pic/Atul Kamble
Mahalaxmi is all things bright and beautiful for a carnival of evening racing. Pic/Atul Kamble

For a city that never sleeps, the Mahalaxmi racecourse, the 220-acre green emerald of SoBo, may hold a unique appeal for its people who believe in partying as hard at night, as they work.

Zavaray Poonawalla’s title sponsorship money has ensured that evening racing receives a tremendous boost. The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) has chalked an ambitious 19-day (make that 19-evening) bonanza starting tomorrow (Saturday, January 9), extending to the last Sunday of April.

When the new committee replaced the earlier one in September, there were many who wondered if the evening racing project, initiated by Ram Shroff, would be shelved. But the new chairman, Z Poonawalla was in full support of the idea.

The inaugural day is slated for tomorrow with a card of eight races. The programme begins at 4 pm, with the last four races on the card scheduled to be held under floodlights. The feature event, the Triple Million race, is slated for 7.30 pm, in which 16 three-year-olds will face the starter for a six-furlong contest.

“Night racing is a great concept, and as a casual racegoer, I am thrilled by the prospect,” A. Shailesh, city landscaper who regularly visits Mahalaxmi racecourse to check out its flora, said, adding, “It provides a perfect family outing for people like me who find pubs and restaurants too pricey for the family budget.”

“An evening at the races will be an unwinding exercise after a hectic day in office,” Ajit Dange, an accountant executive said, adding, “I have been to Happy Valley in Hong Kong, and it was an unforgettable experience. If the race club can create the same ambience and magic here, and there is no reason why they can’t, Mahalaxmi racecourse will be the hottest spot of Mumbai nightlife.”

The race club is giving its all with end of the 220-acre property to the winning post and beyond, illuminated every square inch of the way. The lush, green turf will be clearly visible to the jockeys through their goggles.

Off the track, and into the stands and on the lawns, the city’s finest eateries have pop up stalls and visitors can enjoy sundowners post 8 pm, when the last race will be run.

There will be a special section for kids, including a play area. A bar that will serve some exotic cocktails. Festive lighting, an inaugural fireworks display and a live band will enliven the mood.

The idea is to attract new and younger blood to the race course. It is also to demystify the races and take away the aura of intimidation for first timers. The low mobile phone charges are going to be a huge draw too.
Like they say, if you never go, you will never know.

Mahalaxmi calling
Date: Saturday, January 9, 2016.
Time: 4 pm to 8 pm
Dress Code: Smart Casuals
Entry: Tickets Rs 300 each (members enclosure) Rs 535 (mobile phone) Rs 50 each (first enclosure) Rs 535 (mobile phone)
Visitors have an option to leave their phones at the counters and collect them on their way out, if they do not wish to pay the additional Rs 535.

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