The COVID-19 situation may not be fully under control in Chennai but the government decided to life the lockdown and allow life and business to get back to normal. This is further evident from the fact that the Madras Race Club (MRC) is now preparing to restart its horse racing season.

MRC Will Have Races From Nov 6

The government has given the MRC the green light to commence horse racing again. Typically, the MRC starts its season in October and usually has a combined total of 34 days. This time around, the horse racing season will only commence from Nov 6 and only a total of 19 days will be possible in 2020.

Indian Derby Horse Race at Mahalaxmi Racecourse
MUMBAI, INDIA – FEBRUARY 3, 2008: Indian Derby Horse Race at Mahalaxmi Racecourse. (Photo by Satish Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

While the limited amount of horse racing days will have a big impact on MRC’s revenues, the club will still be thankful that they get to host 19 days of action as at one point it looked like the entire season for 2020 would be cancelled. Some of the top races you can expect at MRC include The South India Derby Stakes, The South India 2000 Guineas and the South India 1000 Guineas.

As of now, it looks like the MRC will have to host all of its races in closed stadiums. The lack of spectators and ticket sales will be yet another challenge that the MRC will have to deal with. However, MRC CEO T Raman said that they remain hopeful that if the COVID-19 cases drop in Chennai during the next 45 days, the government might grant them permission to allow a limited number of spectators during the races.

MRC Considering Online Betting

Given the fact that Chennai hasn’t been able to control its COVID-19 cases, the MRC knows that it is quite likely that there will be no spectators in the stands. If the MRC pushes ahead and brings in spectators even with COVID-19 cases spiking, the club increases the risks of getting its season shutdown, especially if jockeys and stakeholders start testing positive.

MRC is working on an alternate plan to get online betting up and running, in case no spectators are allowed. MRC has confirmed that it is working on a mobile betting app that will most likely be ready in the next few weeks. A final call on the matter will be taken by the MRC in October. As of now, the government has not given MRC permission to offer online or mobile horse betting.

However, multiple race clubs across the country including the Bengaluru Turf Club (BTC) had earlier requested permission to offer mobile horse bets. MRC will look to get approval from the Tamil Nadu government in light of the COVID-19 situation which is preventing bettors from showing up at the race track.

BTC Gets Approval To Offer Horse Racing Bets

The neighbouring Karnataka government gave the BTC permission earlier this month to commence its horse racing season. However, the government made it clear that all races will have to conducted in empty stadiums and strict COVID-19 protocols will have to be followed at all times.

The BTC has also been granted approval by the government to offer online bets on horse racing. The BTC had asked for permission earlier in the year and have been working on getting a mobile betting app up and running.

The BTC will look to get started at the earliest because it needs to get the horses and jockeys fully race fit before its season can commence. The BTC generally does not have races in November as it tends to be the rainy season in Bengaluru making it hard to conduct races. The BTC will not hold any presentation ceremonies after the races in order to limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

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