Horses have been a part of the history ever since they were inducted into the massive armies of the rulers back in the days. Horses were tamed for the sole purpose of better movability in the battles fought man to man back in the pre-industrialization era. Though with the passage of time the distance aspect of the battle evolved into bullets and mechanized infantry, the horses still find their place in many modernized societies. The main field they serve in today is entertainment, logistics supply in remote areas, sports, or the royal stables where horse-riding is still seen as a sign of pride and power.
Horse racing goes back to the time of Greece where it was first played as a sport in Olympics games. Since then, everyone has seen the boom in the liveability of the sport from unorganized leisure to organized race tracks.
When it comes to India, this sport is about 200 years old. It finds its roots back to 1777 when the first country club for horse-racing was set up in Madras. Down the lane to today, it is conducted by six racing authorities on nine racing tracks in India. India in particular has a very rich history in establishing a well-kept racing and breeding history. Although, as per a restriction, only Indian-bred horses can compete in the national competitions. The records of all thoroughbred breeding activity in India are maintained by the Indian Studbook. Both traditional bookmakers and pool betting are exercised by the participants in India.
Today we’ll be talking about the ten major horse racing clubs in India and how they are recognized today by the rich history of this sport that has been played in India for over three centuries now.
1. Bangalore Turf Club
Located on the Race Course Road in Bangalore city, the Bangalore turf club organizes races in two distinct seasons – summer season i.e. May to August and winter season i.e. November to April. The club organizes practice sessions for regular people and is considered as one of the best horse racing clubs in India.
Bangalore Race Course is eminent for its oval-shaped track. The main surface of the race track is mostly turf, with a smaller dirt track on the inside ring. It is a right-handed course, with some challenging features. The total length of the track is around 1950 meters. This track has various gradients which include downhill sections that dip by 13 meters before climbing another 11.5 meters. Add to that four sharp curves and very short straight and you’ll have one of the most thrilling race tracks in India.
2. Hyderabad Turf Club
The Hyderabad Race Club was opened back in 1868 and is owned by HRC. Inaugurated by the 6th Nizam Mahbub Ali Khan in 1968, it is located in Malakpet, Hyderabad, Telangana. It’s a flat course and many prestigious races like the Deccan Derby, President of India Gold Club, and Nizam’s Gold Cup.
Races here are conducted season-wise and those conducted from July to October are called monsoon races and from November to February are called winter races. In Hyderabad, the first horse was ridden by Nizam Asaf Jah VI at Moula-Ali in 1868. Initially, the races were called Deccan races, and then their name was changed to Hyderabad races. This club started its operations in 1961 in Secunderabad and later was shifted to Malakpet in 1968.
3. Madras Race Club
The Madras Race Club opened its gates back in 1777. It is owned by MRC and is located in Guindy, Chennai, India. It’s the oldest racecourse in India that had to close its doors due to the Invasion of Hyder Ali who reached dangerously close to Madras. The modern-day Madras Race club was finally constituted in 1837. This club has a rich history when it comes to the up and downs it went through financially and geopolitically.
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4. Royal Calcutta Turf Club
Royal Calcutta Turf Club founded in the year 1847 in British India’s Calcutta (now Kolkata) on 20th February, it was considered as the premier most horse racing organization not only for British India but the club also acted as a governing body that defined, commanded and applied the rules for all the horse racing that was being carried out as a sport back then in the sub-continent.
Embedded grass course and beautiful horses adorned the club while it’s induction. Back in the days, the races organized here were like a festival and were claimed as one of the important most social events of that year. The games were opened by the Viceroy of India and the largest sweepstake in the world in the 1930s, the Calcutta Derby sweeps were organized by the club. These days it’s a private horse club and dictates the Kolkata Race Course.
5. Delhi Turf Club
The Delhi Turf Club was established in 1940. It serves the horse-racing audience of the capital Delhi and conducts races at the course there. The races are conducted from the second week of August until May each year under the aegis of the royal western India Turf Club. The club is expected to have its own governing authority soon.
6. Royal Western India Turf Club
This club was the hub for all the horse racing taking place in the province of modern Maharashtra back then. Royal Western India Turf Club was established in 1800. These days, it commands and runs the Mahalakshmi Race Course in Mumbai and the Pune Race Course. It conducts racing in two seasons. First, from November to April, at Mumbai’s Mahalakshmi Race Course which also includes the Indian derby In February and in the second phase, from July to October in Pune.
Historically, for a major part in the post-1800 years, racing was held at Byculla. Later on, in 1883, Sir C N Wadia made land available to the club, and then the venue was shifted Mahalakshmi premises. Although, before this incident, Calcutta was the major horse club, Bombay now was the new hub of business advancements and thus the club also gained popularity. This club takes induction into four categories namely: Life, club, stand, and Invitee. You’d be interviewed by the club authorities before the membership is approved, in case you were thinking of joining.
7. The Mysore Race Club
The Mysore Race Club was established by the King of Mysore, Chama raja Wadiyar in 1891 in Karnataka province of India. Back in the days, it was initially located on the land where today JC College is. Under the Calcutta authorities, it was shifted in 1920 and they run till 1951 when the Bangalore race Club was formed and it was running the Mysore races also.
In the year 1977, the present course was taken on lease by the Karnataka government. The Mysore derby is organized in two phases: first, from November to February and second from May to July.
So, these were the horse racing clubs in India that are popular and have a rich history which dates back to the British Period. If you love watching this sport or are interested in pursuing it either as a hobby or a career, the clubs mentioned are the ones you should watch out for.
Till then, stay safe, stay healthy.
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