Horse Race Betting In India – Madras Race Club
Madras Race Club holds the legitimate claim to the title of the birthplace of horse racing in India.
Located in the south Indian metropolis of Chennai (formerly Madras), the Guindy racecourse here dates all the way back to the 1770s. Chennai is a major center of arts, culture and industry along the Coromandel Coast on the Bay of Bengal. It is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu.
The racecourse is located in the Guindy area of Chennai city, close to a small national park of the same name. Guindy National Park is one of the few national parks located inside a city. The Race Course Road connects the Madras Race Club to the rest of the city. The club owns and operates the racecourse and all its facilities.
The Madras Race Club is among the country’s best equipped turf clubs. It has many exclusive facilities available for its 1000-strong members. These include the Guindy Lodge Club House, a gymnasium, health club, card rooms, venues for racquet sports, and pool rooms. For the horses, there is a swimming pool, bund schools, walkers, and lunging rings. The entire facility is housed inside a 150+ acre campus which has been in the hands of the Race Club for centuries. There is a magnificent grand stand which offers an excellent view of the race track. It is also arguably among the best in India.
Besides the traditional racecourse in the Guindy area of Chennai city, the Madras Race Club also operates a second racecourse in the hill station of Ooty (official name Udhagamandalam) in the same state. Ooty is nestled high in the Nilgiri Hills of Western Ghats of south India, more than 500km away from Chennai. Madras Club races are conducted there in summer, due to its cool and soothing climate. This is instead of Chennai, which is notorious for its soaring mercury levels.
The Track Details
The track surface at Guindy is green turf, with no separate monsoon track. There are three sand tracks of varying widths, used primarily for practice sessions and working the horses. The Guindy track is 2355m long and between 30-35m wide. Although quite flat with no steep gradients of note, the track is very technical, with three separate bends.
As for the Ooty race track, it is a much smaller track, barely a mile long and quite narrow at between 10-18m in width. In the past, only horses from the Madras Race Club were allowed in summer there. But that has changed since 2016. These days, thoroughbreds from all over the country have started using Ooty as their summering station.
Race Details – Seasons, Stakes, Prize Payouts
The Madras Race Club has two separate race tracks under its control. It subsequently splits its races into three seasons, two at Chennai and one at Ooty. They are:
- Ooty Summer Meet – From May to June
- Madras Monsoon Races – from August to October
- Madras Winter Meeting – November to March
The Ooty Summer Meet is a relatively short affair, with just 10 race days held in a span of a couple of months. The event is an annual attraction at the hill station, drawing nearly 500 horses and 50 jockeys. The highlight of every Ooty Summer season is the traditional Niligiris Gold Cup. Other important races include the three classics – the Nilgiri 1000 Guineas, the Nilgiri 2000 Guineas, and the Nilgiri Derby Stakes.
Of the two seasons at Guindy Race Track in Chennai, the most highly anticipated is the Madras Races. Also known as the winter meeting, it stretches from November to March. During this time, it is uninterrupted by the heavy rains that usually lash the city during the monsoon. The meeting is very long, with 32 race days and close to 200 races.
– Raceday Schedule
These include high stakes Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III races, involving over 650 horses. The prize money for the Madras cups are among the highest anywhere in India. Around 50 jockeys are also part of the fray, with equal numbers of License “A” and “B” holders among them.
As for the total stakes, the Madras Winter meet does not disappoint. In 2018-19, the event features in excess of Rs 12 crores or £1.2 million. There are several high-profile races and cups during this four-month long season. These include the South India Derby Stake, Indian Turf Invitation Cup, The Guindy Gold Cup, and the Guindy Grand Prix. Other important events include:
- South India Oaks
- South India Guineas (1000 and 2000)
- Madras Gold Vase
- South India St Leger
- South India Sprinter’s Trial Stakes
History of Madras Race Club
There are two parts to the story of the rise of horse racing in the city of Madras. The first part begins with the Guindy Race Track. The modern city of Chennai arose around the East India Company settlement called Fort St George, established in 1640. More than a century later, the British Collector in the region granted around 100 acres of land to British racing enthusiasts and officers for the purpose of conducting races. This was the birth of the Guindy Race Track.
But at that time, the English grip on India was tenuous and limited. In fact, there were frequent wars between the colonial powers and local Indian kingdoms. Racing was quite infrequent in these times of strife. The racecourse subsequently added another 50 odd acres of land in between wars. This enabled the construction of a second track for practice sessions.
The next part of the story takes place in 1837, with the official formation of the Madras Race Club. But it was short lived due to financial constraints and didn’t last for more than a few decades. The club was given second wind in 1887, and a committee and new stewards were appointed. By the 1890s, the Madras Race Club was finally up and running. The outbreak of First World War put a stop to the racing. The Governor of Madras then revived it in 1919.
– Modern Era
In the following years, the facilities were expanded with the construction of a grand stand and the famous Guindy lodge. Until the 1950s, the club functioned under the control of the Calcutta Turf Club Rules, like most clubs in South and East India at that time. In the 1950s, the newly created South India Turf Club was given authority over all turf clubs in South India, including the Madras Race Club.
The club finally became fully autonomous in 1966. The high-altitude race course at Ooty has been in existence since the 1890s. After the Madras Turf Club gained autonomy, the Ooty Race Track came under its control. The Ooty track has witnessed some of the greatest moments in Indian racing history. In 1995, Dr. MAM Ramaswamy achieved the Guinness World Record of a double century in Classics here, when his horse Great Spectacle won the Nilgiri Derby.
The Guindy Race Track has also witnessed some remarkable races over the years. Unfortunately, the Race Club does not have an online link to their track records at the moment.
Legality of Betting at The Madras Race Club
There is a special connection between the Madras Race Club and the issue of horse racing in India. Gambling laws are very strict in India, which has a near blanket ban on all game of chance in place all over the country. A lawsuit filed by Madras horse racing titan Mr. MAM Ramaswamy eventually led to the 1996 Supreme Court ruling legalizing betting on horse racing in India.
Thanks to that event, you can safely bet on horse races offline at any turf club in India, including the Madras Race Club. Along with counters at the racecourse, most Indian turf clubs also operate off-site counters for betting in other parts of the city, and even other parts of their home state.
Betting on Madras Race Club Races Online
India does not openly condone online betting on horse races. However, there is no outright ban on the activity either. Thousands of Indian betting enthusiasts continue to use reputable online betting platforms like Bodog, Bet365, and Bet Rally. They are completely safe to use and also offer a not so obvious advantage for players from India. You shouldn’t have any trouble as long as you avoid shady sites and stick with the big established players in the industry.
Not all online platforms accept deposits in Indian currency. Since converting INR to dollars of GBP is such a hassle, it is always better to seek a site that accepts the currency. And sites like Bet365 also have numerous other sporting events to place bets on. And if you happen to be a new visitor to these sites, you even have a chance to win exciting promotional offers like free bets, bonuses, and cashbacks.