HYDERABAD: After schools, theatres and offices, horse racing is the latest to go online. The Hyderabad Race Club is still waiting for the stadium at Malakpet to be open for spectators, for, without overjoyed spectators, horse race ain’t fun.The club has announced that it will start monsoon races in the last week of July. “But this race will be online for the spectators, without whom the event is dull. We did conduct a winter race but the response was not as rousing as it was before the pandemic,” said a polo player Rajvi Sen. She is also a social media and PR manager for Hyderabad Race Course (HRC).
For over one and a half years now horse race spectators and punters have been waiting for the day to come when they would be able to watch a race live at the stadium. “As racers, we also need the support from the spectators who go wild at times during the match. They discuss, scream and make horses and us feel much more energetic during the race,” she added.
“Betting is not fun anymore,” said Mohammed Iqbal, who has been betting on horses for nearly two decades now. “We need to see reactions of punters who lose their bet. We also need to see the expressions of punters who win the bet. During the pandemic, I realised that I don’t bet for money, but for the excitement associated with it. I do it for fun and watching the match online is no fun. I want to experience the live race again. I am eagerly waiting for the pandemic to subside so that I can be back at the stadium,” he added.
Another jockey, Avinash Jain, said, “Initially I felt it would be nice with less crowd considering the pandemic. But over time, I realised that the magic is missing. I don’t feel like racing when there is no yelling from the spectators. Before the pandemic, the stadium would be full of spectators, but now it’s just us racers and the sounds of galloping horses.”
Meanwhile, Racecourse Media Group and Sports Information Services have launched India’s first daily betting service through an agreement with Hyderabad-based wagering technology company NorthAlley. The agreement sees British and Irish racing content shown live for parimutuel (tote) betting into local pools via the Hyderabad Race Club’s digital platforms.
According to Rijvi, jockeys are enjoying online races after the race club started streaming live on the website ‘play.hydraces.com’. They have also partnered with TurfWinners who are the first official licensed providers of the UK racing in India. “In the non-peak season, we have been streaming races live from the UK, Ireland and France to Indian punters and racing enthusiasts and have been instrumental in promoting international racing to Indians. This wouldn’t have happened if the lockdown hadn’t forced racing to go online,” she added.