Sri Lanka’s Royal Turf Club unveils plans for next racing season

Sagara Lakmal De Mel Photography

June 23, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Royal Turf Club (RTC) has several plans to popularize horse racing and the next racing season in Nuwara Eliya, with a Hollywood star expected at the first charity race, officials said.

The next Nuwara Eliya racing season will commence on August 6th, with horses racing every two weeks until May 2017, said Wayne Wood, the CEO of the Royal Turf Club. He was speaking at a media event in Colombo.

Wood said with the Nuwara Eliya track and Grand Stand rehabilitated, new developments will include the saddling yard being replaced by an Equine Hospital, the construction of a sand track for exercising additional horses, and an equine swimming pool.

The RTC will also conduct an auction for horses from India on August 6th.

“We are confident that more horses will arrive during the season, and plans have also been approved for an equine swimming pool,” said Wood.

The March to April races saw 22 ponies which ran in 11 races to total 59 starts, in addition to the thoroughbreds which participated. 19 pony owners received a total of 880,000 rupees in prize money, while Jockeys received a total of 80,000 rupees and trainers 106,000 rupees, he said.

Present at the media event was the President of the RTC Suranjith Premadasa, Consultant to the RTC Cyrus Madan and Event Coordinator Nikhil Punna.

Wood said the RTC had received complaints that there was no betting on course, but the RTC had no intention of allowing betting. It is a myth that horse racing is associated with gambling, he added.

“The biggest races are all non gambling races,” he said. “The Indian Supreme court passed a ruling where it is clearly stated that ‘Horse racing is a game of skill’ when asked to rule on the association of horse racing with gambling.”

Non-gambling race courses pay the highest stakes, with Dubai offering 10 Million dollars in 2015, he said.

“As such our business model is based on the Dubai model which will not only generate higher profits for investors but also will ensure longevity for horse racing after betting on horses is long gone.”

Tourism and fashion design are some of the industries that will benefit from horse racing, while employment opportunities will increase, official said.

To address questions raised by animal welfare activists, Cyrus Madan, Consultant to the RTC, said the horses are well looked after and special facilities had been designed for them. Any person or organization can visit the stables and inspect the welfare of the horses, Wood added.

“In most cases race horses are better looked after than many humans,” Wood said.

Fashion designed by Ramona Oshini was modeled at the event. Photos are below:

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