Mumbai - the capital state of Maharashtra and home of India’s billionaires and Bollywood stars, houses the historic and spectacular Mahalaxmi Race Course operated by The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC). Like other racecourses in India, the Mahalaxmi Racecourse functions on a government held 225 acres of leased land . The race turf is an interesting fusion of old and new, with a glorious legacy grand-stand at one end and contemporary services like close finish cameras, ultra modern horse-stables which can house 1400 ponies and horses, computer operated bets, lavish saunas, cafes, and even a heliport.
The historical background of horse hustling in Mumbai is over 200 years. The Bombay Turf Club was begun in 1800 by British authorities and carried out its operations from Byculla neighborhood. In 1864, its name was changed to Western India Turf Club and later it shifted its premises to Mahalaxmi. By the end of 19th century, RWITC became a prominent racing authority in British India following the Royal Calcutta Turf club. In 1935, King George V, gave it the Royal tag as it attracted a lot of royal visitors like Queen Elizabeth, Shah of Iran, King George to name a few. During 1970s, Rajendra Kishan, a Bollywood lyricist and screenwriter, won a record Rs. 4,600,000 big stake at the Turf Club which adds up to around £1.9 million in the present cash. This remains as the biggest jackpot win in the Indian horse racing history as there were no taxes on income from betting during that time.
RWITC of today is the controlling body of races at Mumbai, Pune and Delhi with a strong membership of over 7000 club members and it also plays an important role in structuring racing laws along with Turf Authority of India. Owing to its alluring potential, many MNC's look forward to sponsor its events thus captivating a huge attention among media and press. The RWITC has give the significant information about the club and its races through its website. It incorporates all the historic race records at both Mumbai and Pune. The most established record is from 1998, when Game Plan won the 2400m race with a record time of 2 m. 27.71 secs. Also, the most recent record was set in 2019 by Kingsman in the 1400m race. For Pune, the most seasoned record was set by Snow Fire in 2003 in 1100m race with a period of 1 m 05.94 secs.
The unique Oval shape of Mahalaxmi race track was planned by Major JE Hughes in 1883 and kept at 2400m in length. Its smooth and green turf has made it the one of the best rated surface tracks in whole Asia with its outermost final straight of 600m long as well as 1600 m option at home run and is best used for winter races.
Proximity to sea makes the Mahalaxmi Race Turf unsuitable for racing during rains. For this reason, RWITC works on two racecourses
Monsoon- July to October (Saturdays and Sundays) at Pune Racecourse - odd special Race Day (Friday)
Winter- November to March (Thursdays and Sundays) - April (Saturdays and Sundays) at Mumbai Mahalaxmi Racecourse
There are 70 race days in the yearly racing calendar of RWITC. More than 1500 horses, 700 owners, and 200 horse-jockeys indulge in around 550 races every year which makes it a gala event.
Every year, the RWITC boasts of hosting the six most prestigious Grade I races in India :
Indian Guineas (1000 & 2000)
Poonawalla Breeders Multimillion
Indian St Leger
The Pune Derby and St Leger are hosted in Pune, rest of them in Mumbai. The Mumbai season has total stakes of around Rs 13 crore or 1.4 million pounds and the stakes for Indian Derby in February are the largest of the order of half a million pounds. Other important races hosted by RWITC in Mumbai are:
LAST 10 INDIAN DERBY WINNERS