Amidst accolades, excitement, clean racing and all the fun, thrills and spills of a racing carnival, set in the picturesque environs of Nuwara Eliya or ‘Little ‘England ‘ as it is fondly termed, the newly formed Royal Turf Club concluded its first race for the season ‘At The Highest Level’ !
Over 35 horses were seen in action in a total of eight races with Charlatan and jockey Irvan Singh owned by Deepthi Jayakody emerging as the eventual winners of the first ever Royal Turf Club Premier Cup Class 1, Stakes 1600m which saw Rs. 585,000 and a cup being offered for the first five places. The Gamini Dissanayake Memorial Cup along with Rs. 482,500 plus a trophy was presented to the first five winners of the Class 2, Stakes 1,400m race, which were won by Gazaki and Irfan Singh, owned by Keerthi Wannakuwatte.
The Mayors Class 3, 1,200m and the 3 year old Maiden Stakes 1,100m races were each awarded Rs. 375,000 plus a trophy with the winners being Supreme and S. D. Mahesh (owner Deepthi Jayakody) and Stock Well and jockey Ashok Kumar owned by Isira Dassanayake respectively.
In addition for the first time since independence, in keeping with the RTC’s position on integrity in racing, four overseas independent officials held the key positions in the judges box, namely Cyrus Maden , the starter Jehangir Sayed , and Stipendiary Stewards Wayne Wood and Sinclair Marshall . President of the newly formed Royal Turf Club Nuwara Eliya , Suranjith Premadasa said that these steps were taken in a bid to ensure fair play and bring back the glamour and flair of the races which had been absent for several decades .
The day’s proceedings commenced with the unveiling of the plaque by Hon. Min. Navin Dissanayake , commemorating the inaugural race meeting of the Royal Turf Club, Nuwara Eliya. Amongst the dignitaries present were HE the Indian High Commissioner Y.K Sinha and Mrs Sinha, Deputy British High Commissioner Mrs Laura Davies, Nuwara Eliya Mayor Mahinda Dodampe Gamage , film Producer Chandran Rutnam and many others .
The first race commenced at 10 30 a.m. at the redeveloped Nuwara Eliya Race Course and for the very first time anti-doping procedures were introduced . Over Rs. 2 million was offered as prize money, which no doubt spurred the winners to victory.
Entertainment by way of the band Misty and Rajitha, as well as fashion shows featuring well known designers Ramona Oshini amongst others, made the RTC’s inaugural race an unforgettable event .
The final results:
Race 01. Cotton Hall Class 4 & 5 Stakes 1200m: 1st Beautiful Lankan, Ashok Kumar ( Isira Dassanayake), 2nd Cative Heart, N. S. Parmar (Isira Dassanayake 3rd Stormy Petrel, I. Dayalan (Anigli Stables)
Race 02. Vasanthi memorial Trophy Half Bred Thoroughbred Stakes !000m: !st City Shot, K. Sanjeewan (s. Loganathan), 2nd Millenium Queen, Madhan Kumar (M. Sudagar), 3rd Misty Queen, S. Suganandan (S. V. Madialagan).
Race 03: The Mayors Class three Stakes 1400m: 1st Supreme, S. D. Mahesh (Deepthika Jayakody), 2nd Indian Epic, Ashok Kumar (Isira Dassanayake), 3rd Joanna, L. Dayalan (Sugath Senarachi).
Race 04: Gamini Dissanayake Memorial Cup Class Two Stakes 1400m: 1st Gazaki, Irvan Singh (Keerthi Wannakuwatte), 2nd Ice Mint, Ashok Kumar, (Isira Dassanayake), 3rd Sandstorm, Dinesh (Deepthika Jayakody).
Race 05: Rupavahini Corporation 3 year old Maiden Stakes 1100m: 1st Stockwell, Ashok Kumar (Isira Dassanayake).
Race 6: Royal Turf Club Premier Cup Class 1, Stakes 1600m: 1st Charlatan, Irvan Singh (Deepthika Jayakody), 2nd Roswald S. D. Mahesh (Deepthika Jayakody), 3rd Alcazaba Vinod Singh (Keerthi Wannakuwatte).
Race 07: Vasanthi Memorial Trophy 1st division half bred thoroughbred Stakes 1000m: Arundathi, M. Ishan (S. periyasami), 2nd Reabath L. Dayalan (Vasanthi Stables), 3rd Eye Touch, A. Dilan (Krishika Lionie)
Race 8: Nuwara Eliya three-quarter bred thoroughbred Stakes 1000m: 1st Legasi S. dasaradan (Navin Madavabandara), 2nd Carbrese K. Sanjeewan (Deepthika Jayakody), 3rd Queen of the Hill, M. Ishan (R. Rajapaksha)