Royal Turf Club formed; aims to boost sports tourism

Royal Turf Club

The exciting sport of horse racing with it’s glamour, prestige and showmanship has long held a place in the hearts and history of Sri Lanka. In the 1840’s Mr. John Baker introduced this illustrious sport with the inaugural race taking place at the Nuwara Eliya Race Course in 1875.

Originally conducted by the Nuwara Eliya Gymkhana Club, racing in Sri Lanka will see a new dimension to the sport emerging with the formation of the Royal Turf Club.

Headed by equestrian Suranjith Premadasa, President of the Royal Turf Club, who needs no introduction, the other office bearers of the Royal Turf Club [ RTC ] are , Secretary Mrs Lucille Dahanayake and Treasurer Mr Nishitha Rupasinghe while the Committee comprises of Ranjith Dahanayake, Nihara Jayatilleke and Sudharshana Deshapriya.

The Royal Turf Club have to date made a size-able investment to develop the infrastructure, which includes renovating the track and replacing the track railings, renovating the Grand Stand, Steward Room, Jockey’s Rooms, as well as all other Race Course buildings which were in need of extensive repairs. . The RTC intends to continue with its program of development by investing over the next two years, in partnership with foreign investors to make Sri Lanka and Nuwara Eliya, a racing hub for the region.

As part of their long term development strategy the RTC have secured the services of Wayne Wood as their inaugural Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Stipendiary Stewards, and Mr Sinclair Marshall as Thoroughbred Riding Instructor and Stipendiary Steward.

Mr Wood, a respected member of the international racing community comes to the Club with a wealth of thoroughbred racing experience, both in practical terms and as a senior administrator.

Whilst at school he rode in horse shows in his native Australia and assisted now retired Sydney trainer Ted Stanton from a young age. After leaving school and working for Mr Stanton for a short period Mr Wood’s direction shifted to administration where he started in the racing office at the Sydney Turf Club and then the Australian Jockey Club.

At the age of 22 he became the youngest Starter of a Metropolitan Race Club. Continuing his progression in the racing industry, he commenced a Cadetship as a Stipendiary Steward in Tamworth in 1978. After 2 years, he moved to Western Australia as a Steward with the West Australian Turf Club (W.A.T.C) and during his tenure there, became in 1988, the youngest Chairman of Stewards for a Principal Club in Australia at the time. In 1989 Mr Wood was awarded the WA Racing Achiever of the Year, which is judged by the racing writers and awarded to the person who had made the greatest contribution to the advancement of racing.

Mr Wood continued his Stewarding career until 1996 when he was offered the opportunity to expand his skill base and develop his management experience in the private sector. He was appointed as a Management Consultant for Curracabundi Pty Ltd, running a 26,000 acre cattle breeding enterprise which included responsibility for the control of accounts for several companies in the group as well as holding the position of Racing Manager for Mayfarm Lodge Pty. Ltd., which owned a stable of 130 thoroughbreds. This gave Mr Wood the opportunity to experience first hand, the problems that owners and trainers face in preparing their valuable horses to race. In 2003 Mr Wood returned to the sport where his passion lies when he was appointed as the Chief Investigator for Queensland Racing.

More recently, to expand his racing experience in the international arena, Mr Wood held the position of Chief Integrity Steward for the Royal Western India Turf Club in Mumbai and most recently as the Director of Racing and Chief Stipendiary Steward for the Bangalore Turf Club.

Mr Wood is noted for his integrity and for being a fair and fearless adjudicator with a no nonsense attitude towards those who breach the Rules of Racing.

Mr Sinclair Marshall who takes up the position of Thoroughbred Riding Instructor and Stipendiary Steward is a Dedicated, energetic professional specializing in the thoroughbred racing industry. He held the position of Stipendiary Steward and Riding Instructor and track-work jockey at the Bangalore Turf Club up to the time of his appointment in Sri Lanka and his speciality is building skills to establish trust and credibility and represent the Jockeys community with the turf authorities of India at all levels.

Leadership, Breaking in of young horses , Preparing juveniles for racing , Stable Management, Conducting of meetings and enquiries, Training, educating and mentoring young jockeys, are just some of Mr Marshall’s skills .

During his tenure as President – Jockeys Association of India he was given the mandate to govern the welfare of 400 members of the Association, providing professional representation at racing enquiries and appeal hearings at all racing centres throughout the country. He was President of the Jockeys Association of India for more than 26 years as well as the International representative for the Jockeys Association of India at the 2000 International Jockeys Association conference in the UK and 2008 in South Africa.

He assisted one of India’s leading horse trainers in preparing horses for the upcoming races, including riding track work every morning, whilst supervising all aspects of stable management. He has over 40 years of race riding experience having ridden for various leading and successful trainers across the country at all racing venues in India. Mr. Marshall has ridden in both England and Macau, for a brief stint, ridding 983 winners out of around 4000 rides. He has has ridden 8 Derby winners across the country and several 1000, 2000 guinees and graded races, and In total 38 Indian classic winners.

He was Champion Jockey several times in the Bombay, Pune, Madras and Mysore Turf Clubs.

Under the guidance of these two renowned names in the global world of horse racing and the experienced Royal Turf Club committee It is the aim of the club to elevate and uplift the standard of horse racing in Sri Lanka. to new heights and bring back the traditions of this gentlemanly sport. (Media Release)