Before the opening, the primary requirement is that spectators will be allowed in the racecourse, no bets will be played, and a change of venue had been called for by the BMC, which took over Mahalaxmi Race Course for COVID activities.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the racecourse was not functioning for eight whole months. After a gap of all these months, horse racing is finally set to restart at the Pune Race Course from 27th today. The higher governing body has finally permitted The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) last week to start the sport, but the one condition that has been placed in the sport should be conducted behind closed doors. No spectators will be allowed, giving way to betting; hence, there is no question of disobeying protocols. Willing spectators and interested people will be able to watch the live-action of the sport online.
RWITC has decided to handle the Mumbai racing season 20-21 in Pune as Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has acquired the Mahalaxmi racecourse to provide COVID aid and facilitate cooperative management. Generally, between July and October, the Pune monsoon season is conducted, but this year it was futile as the pandemic washed away everything.
Pune was a little slow in restarting their sport. Other cities like Kolkata, Mysore, Madras, Hyderabad, and Bangalore turf clubs have already commenced their racing seasons since the beginning of November. The change of venue and the fixing of specific guidelines took RWITC to restart their season.
The RWITC administration’s plans were in progress regarding re-opening the racecourse right after the Maharashtra Government abolished the lockdown. But, resources and guidelines had to be followed for safety, so the delay. RWITC sought permission a while back, but the state’s home department decided to withhold the decision a little longer, keeping in mind the people’s precautionary measures and safety in charge. The permission was granted last week.
Several protocols have been laid out, among which the most important are the owners whose horses are taking part in the program are allowed inside and jockeys and trainers who have engagements during the day. During the races, only the members of the turf club’s regulatory bodies and officials are allowed. Arogya Setu App on mobile phones is mandatory to be shown at the gate by entering the racecourse.
The turf club’s betting windows will be closed, and the licensed bookmakers will not be allowed to operate their stalls. The statement government is yet to announce the decision regarding RWITC’s appeal to operate the betting procedures online. The state government is yet to analyze the resources to support online betting. The betting facilities can be availed by the punters through online portals and racing apps, as stated by a reliable source. The punters who have permission to continue betting will have to register themselves first and check the compliance with the KYC norms.Due to the licensing controls’ restrictions, live telecasts of the races to different racing houses have been canceled.
RWITC Chairman, K.N Dhunjibhoy, a horse owner too, spoke about the new normal in the racing world and acknowledged the government’s anxiety to allow the restarting of the horse racing. He also added that other owners and members expect the government to grant them additional concessions in due course so that the members and the public can enjoy the sport by following the COVID protocols strictly.