Horse Race Betting In India – Royal Western Turf Club
The Royal Western India Turf Club has been around since 1800. It continues to host some of the biggest races in India horse racing. The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) is the richest and most prestigious racing organization in modern India. Located in the metropolis of Mumbai, home of India’s billionaires and Bollywood stars, its races are among the most glamorous events in the social calendar. In other words, the RWITC is a big deal.
The RWITC operates two racecourses in the state of Maharashtra. Besides the historic Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai, the club also runs races at the Pune Race Course. Pune is located a few hours drive from the city of Mumbai.
Mumbai is the capital of the state of Maharashtra. Located in a natural harbor on the Arabian Sea coast, it is the business capital of India and its largest city. The scenic Mahalaxmi Race Course is located in the heart of this metropolis, in a sea-facing neighborhood called Mahalaxmi. Dr. E Moses road and Lala Lajpatrai Road are the two main links to the racecourse.
Like most other racecourses in the country, the Mahalaxmi Racecourse also operates out of 225 acres of government land held on a long-term lease. The racecourse is a blend of the old and new, with a majestic heritage grandstand and modern facilities like photo-finish cameras, state-of-the-art stables for 1400 horses, computerized betting, luxurious saunas, restaurants, bars, and even a helipad.
On the other hand, the Pune Racecourse is a smaller facility located in the Cantonment area of the city. Pune is the second-largest city in Maharashtra. It is located inland, on the Deccan Plateau, roughly 3 hours away from Mumbai by road. The racecourse is located on around 118 acres of Army land. It has stabling facilities as well as a luxurious residential facility for its members.
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RWITC Track Details
The Mahalaxmi race track was designed by Major JE Hughes in 1883. It has an oval shape and is 2400m long. It has an even, green turf surface and has been rated one of the best race tracks in Asia. The final straight is 600m long with an option to run 1600m races on the home run using a straight chute. The Mumbai track is used for the winter season.
The track in Pune is longer at 3200m. Like the Mumbai track, this one too has a turf surface and an oval shape. There is the main track as well as a separate monsoon track built to withstand the rains.
RWITC Race Details – Seasons, Stakes, Prize Payouts
Mumbai city is prone to heavy rains in the monsoon. Since the Mahalaxmi racecourse is located close to the sea, this makes it unsuitable for racing at that time of the year. This is why the Royal Western India Turf Club operates on two racecourses. The main winter season goes in Mumbai, while the shorter monsoon season is at the Pune track.
● Winter – from November to March in Mumbai Mahalaxmi Racecourse
● Monsoon – from July to October at the Pune Racecourse
The RWITC adheres to a regular schedule of 70 race days in a calendar year. Around 560 races are held each year, involving over 1,000 horses, 600 owners, and 150 jockeys (both A and B licensed). In Mumbai, the races go on Thursdays and Sundays from November to March, and Saturdays and Sundays in the month of April. In Pune, they are only on weekends, on Saturdays and Sundays with the odd special race day held on a Friday.
The RWITC hosts some of the most prestigious horse races in India. It has more than six Grade I main events in a single calendar year. These include:
- Indian Guineas (1000 & 2000)
- Indian Oaks
- Poonawalla Breeders Multimillion
- Indian Derby
- Pune Derby
- Indian St Leger
Of these, the Indian Derby, held in early February in Mumbai, is the biggest race of the year with a stake of just under half a million pounds. All the other Grade 1 races, with the exception of the Pune Derby and St Leger, are in Mumbai. The Mumbai Winter season alone has total stakes of around Rs 13 crore or £1.4 million, and that is excluding the Indian Derby weekend races.
The RWITC also conducts the following important races:
● The A.C. Ardeshir Trophy (GR.III)
● The Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia Trophy (Gr.III)
● The Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Gold Cup (Gr.II)
● The Kunigal Stud Breeders`Produce Stakes (G.III)
● The Dr.S.C. Jain Sprinters` Championship (Gr.II)
● The Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Eclipse Stakes Of India (Gr.II)
● The C.N. Wadia Gold Cup (Gr.II)
● The Shapoorji Pallonji Breeders` Juvenile Colts Championship (Gr.III)
● The Forbes Breeders` Juvenile Fillies Championship (Gr.III)
● The Eve Champion Trophy (Gr.III)
● The Sanjay Kakade Group Turf Club Trophy (Gr.III)
● The F.D. Wadia Trophy (Gr.II)
● The S.A.Poonawalla Multi-million (Gr.II)
● The Mcdowell Signature Premier Indian St.Leger (Gr.I)
● The Nanoli Stud Pune Derby (Gr.1)
History Of the Royal Western Turf Club
The history of horse racing in Mumbai is more than 200 years old. The Bombay Turf Club was started in 1800 by British colonial officials with the help of a prominent Indian businessman. The club operated out of the Byculla neighborhood of the city. In Pune, racing started after the end of the Anglo-Maratha wars in 1820. The racecourse there was built in 1830.
The name of the Bombay Turf Club was changed to Western India Turf Club in 1864. Fourteen years later, the club shifted its premises to the current address at Mahalaxmi. In those days, the area around Mahalaxmi Flats was marshland. This land was reclaimed for racing after it was donated to the club by industrialist Cusrow N Wadia.
But the club could only race there for a year, due to inaccessible terrain and the presence of open drains nearby. It would take another 5 years of land development before the club is able to use the land for racing. By the 1890s, the Western India Turf Club had become the second most important racing authority in British India, behind the Royal Calcutta Turf Club.
In the 20th century, the Turf Club continued to grow and attract important guests. Royals like King George V, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Shah of Iran all used to visit the club. The club received its Royal tag from the Emperor of India, King George V in 1935.
The sport of kings continued to flourish in the region under the tutelage of the RWITC even after independence. In the 1970s, Rajendra Kishan, a prominent lyricist and screenwriter from Bollywood, won a record Rs. 4,600,000 jackpot at the Turf Club. Adjusted for inflation, this amounts to around £1.9 million in today’s currency. It still remains the largest win in a horse racing jackpot in Indian history. And the winner even managed to keep all his money because there was no tax on horse racing bets at that time.
The Modern RWITC
The modern RWITC is an exclusive private club with around 7000 members. It is an independent entity that controls all the races in Mumbai and Pune under its own authority. RWITC is also the controlling authority for races conducted in Delhi. It is one of the key controlling members of the Turf Authorities of India, the premier organization for horse racing laws in the country. The RWITC races are among the most lucrative in India, attracting heavy sponsorship and patronage from multinational corporations.
The RWITC has a well-maintained website where they provide all the important information about the club and its races. This includes historic race records at both Mumbai and Pune. The oldest record still standing at Mumbai is from 1998, when Game Plan won the 2400m race with a time of 2 ms. 27.71 secs. And the latest record was set in 2019 by Kingsman in the 1400m race (backstretch edition). At Pune, the oldest record was set by Snow Fire in 2003 in 1100m monsoon races with a time of 1 m 05.94 secs.
You can check out more interesting details at the RWITC website here: http://www.rwitc.com/
Legality of Betting at the Royal Western Turf Club
Horse betting has a long history of legality in India dating back to the colonial era. While all other forms of gambling are strictly prohibited or controlled, the sport has received the protection of the courts over the years. In 1996, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that betting on horse races is not gambling as it involves specialized knowledge of horses and racing conditions.
All visitors are free to bet at the counters set up in major turf clubs in India, and the RWITC is no exception. They have facilities for computerized tote betting and live screenings of races. The club even offers people the chance to bet on races in other turf clubs in India. To provide easy access to legal betting, the RWITC also runs off-course counters all over the city, both in Mumbai as well as Pune.
Betting on Royal Western Turf Club Races Online
Since offline gambling is heavily regulated and prohibited in India, the online variant also faces some legal ramifications. Due to a lack of precise laws, this aspect of gambling in India is in a bit of a grey area.
But that hasn’t stopped Indian players from using online sites for gambling. In fact, horse racing has a bit of an edge here when compared to regular casino gambling. Since betting on horse races is legal in India, online betting also carries less risk.
For maximum safety, players should try to bet only on reputed online platforms. Indian gamblers usually prefer sites that accept bets in Indian currency, for obvious reasons. The best options at the moment include sites like Betway and Bet365. They all offer exciting promotional bonuses for new players.