Sport

The Invitation Cup will bring back the glory of Madras horse racing, says MAMR Muthiah

 MAMR Muthiah, chairman, Madras Race Club

MAMR Muthiah, chairman, Madras Race Club | Photo Credit: B JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Forest Flame and Star is Born are getting ready. They will clash with Juliet, Own Opinion and others in Guindy this weekend.

These horses are gearing up for the prestigious Indian Turf Invitation Cup, widely regarded as one of the biggest events in the sport in the country. With this Diamond Jubilee Year edition, the race returns to Chennai after six years and will see the crème de la crème of India’s horse racing circuit in attendance.

“It is a huge event that will showcase the best of thoroughbred horses across the country,” says Madras Race Club chairman MAMR Muthiah, seated comfortably at his sprawling Chettinad Palace. “We want to bring back the glory of Madras racing as it was three decades ago.”

He is referring to a time when the sport was more popular than cricket. “It was followed by a lot of people back then,” he recalls. “Today’s generation has moved on to cricket and forgotten racing. The cricket stadium at Chepauk, in fact, was partly funded by the Madras Race Club and back then, there was written correspondence from the Cricket Association to organise Racing Days to garner funds for cricket!”

MAMR Muthiah during a race

MAMR Muthiah during a race | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

Muthiah’s tryst with horses began when he went to the races with his father, MAM Ramaswamy, one of the biggest names in Indian horse racing. “He has won nine Invitation Cups, out of which I was present for four. I know how difficult it is to win a race; it’s something only horse breeders will understand. The food matters, but the pedigree and training are of utmost importance. When your horse runs, many owners feel the adrenaline rush.”

With leading horse patrons including the Poonawallas and Mehras flying down to participate in this marquee event, the Invitation Cup (which came into existence in 1963) is a chance for Chennaiites to catch a glimpse of some of the best-bred horses in the country.

“We want it to be a festival instead of just a racing weekend. We will be honouring people who have done extraordinary work connected with the horse-racing industry. This year, we will also be involving punters, who get a food coupon and free entry, to ensure they are part of the celebration too,” says Muthiah, who also points out how the pandemic has presented an opportunity to spruce up all infrastructural and sporting facilities in the Club.

As the horses and jockeys get ready, Guindy will come to life. Muthiah concludes, “The public has forgotten that a thriving racing culture existed in Madras; the Cup will bring back that.”

The Chettinad Indian Turf Invitation Cup will be held on March 5 and 6 at the Madras Race Club in Guindy. Tickets will be available at the venue.


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Printable version | Jul 29, 2022 12:52:26 am | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/the-invitation-cup-will-bring-back-the-glory-of-madras-horse-racing-says-mamr-muthiah/article65182925.ece