Stirr-up! It's now time for the Madras Races - The New Indian Express

Stirr-up! It's now time for the Madras Races

Published: 26th October 2013 07:37 AM

Last Updated: 26th October 2013 09:49 AM

There may be some doubt about whether India and Australia will play the fifth ODI in Cuttack because of the foul weather; but even the monsoons can do little to deter the start of the Madras Races. “Even if there’s a little rain we will use the outer track to hold the races on. The ground beneath the turf is lighter, so the rain water will percolate and keep it safe for the horses to race,” said B K Amanullah Khan, Secretary of the Madras Race Club. Beginning this racing season (2013-14) this weekend, the prestigious Madras Race Club is gearing up for another action-packed 45 race days rife with jockeys, purebred horses, adrenaline and lots of betting spirit.

While there has been a misconception that horse racing at the 2,355 metre long race course has been laid off in recent years, the truth is the spirit of racing is alive and well — just as much as the sport itself. “Excepting the members enclosure, we have two racing enclosures (I and II) that are completely open to the public, so we are expecting a lot of participation this season,” said Khan.

With several horticultural and infrastructural modifications being made to the 235-year-old race club, it will certainly be full on the special race days when horses race for several cups and on holiday, “Normally days like Pongal, Christmas and even before New Year’s Eve are packed. We have seen more and more members bringing their spouses and ladies to the races so that is an encouraging sign. With all the greenery that has been added, it is not surprising that plenty of our members and friends like spending an afternoon at the races,” he said.

During the entire racing season, the only place that is likely to be more crowded than the pavillion are the betting counters — people who are laying serious wagers seldom leave the area because there are large TV screens erected everywhere, “We try to coordinate the races with other clubs so that the intervenue betting (betting on races in other cities) can also happen at the same time. It works very well with clubs like Hyderabad cooperating with us,” he added.

The Club’s Chairman M A M Ramaswamy is expected to attend the races when the major cups are run for. With hundreds of horses from within the state and the country trickling into the MRC to register for the season, it is not surprising that there is a palpable buzz in the air ahead of race day.

(file photo / AP)

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