Over 60 horses will be seen in action when the newly-formed Royal Turf Club (RTC) Nuwara Eliya horse races commence on March 20 from 10:30 a.m. onwards at the redeveloped Nuwara Eliya Race Course.
With over Rs.2 million being offered as prize money and entrance to the races being free of charge for the inaugural race, coupled with a line up of entertainment, which includes the band Misty and a fashion show featuring well-known designers Ramona Oshini amongst others, it is bound to be an unforgettable event .
The day’s proceedings will commence with the unveiling of the plaque, commemorating the inaugural race meeting of the Royal Turf Club – Nuwara Eliya. The first race will commence at 10:30 a.m., with the last taking place at 8:00 p.m. A total of eight races will be run, with the day’s proceedings culminating with the presentation of trophies. For the first time anti-doping procedures too would be introduced at the races while a photo finish system too would be installed to ensure accuracy to determine the winner.
In addition for the first time since independence, three foreign judges would be invited to take command of the entire racing event. President of the newly formed Royal Turf Club Nuwara Eliya, Suranjith Premadasa, said that these steps had been taken in a bid to ensure fair play and bring back the glamour and flair of the races, which have been absent for several decades. RTC Secretary Lucille Dahanayake said, “With horse racing now gaining in popularity, several past owners who had virtually given up the sport are once again entering the event. We also expect several foreign jockeys to take part as well.”
The Royal Turf Club Nuwara Eliya, which has taken steps to improve the dilapidated race course, which now comes under the purview of the Sugathadasa Stadium, has spent over Rs.100 million to completely refurbish the race course and renovate all the buildings with new furniture and other equipment. RTC CEO Wayne Wood said that the 1,700 meter track was re-laid according to international standards, with the garden area too being redone.
“We have also redeveloped the stables area, grand stand, VIP and sponsors’ areas and have even installed a special medical room.” Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, Plantations Minister Naveen Dissanayake and the Nuwara Eliya Mayor are fully behind this event and are supporting the RTC 100 percent. Wood said that they would conduct eight races, with the highest prize money of Rs.585,000 and cup being offered for the first five places of the RTC Premier Cup Class 1, stakes 1600M. The Gamini Dissanayake Memorial Cup along with Rs.482,500 plus a trophy will be presented to the first five place getters of this Class 2, Stakes 1,400M race. The Class 3 (1,200M) and 3-year-old Maiden stakes 1,100M races would each be awarded Rs.387.500 plus a trophy to the winner with prize money distributed to the fifth placed.