Record-breaking BTC Winter from tomorrow

BANGALORE, NOV. 1. The 41-day Bangalore Winter meeting opens on November 3 with the highest ever stake money pay-out on record in Indian racing.

The season which features the Invitation Cup weekend winds up on March 23. The level of stakes (category wise) has reached an unprecedented Rs 9 crores, including the Invitational Cup races, making Bangalore stake money the highest ever on offer.

The hike in stake money works out to about 20 per cent more than that offered for the last Bangalore Summer season and nearly 30 per cent up on last winter.

The projected stake money on offer for the Invitational Cup weekend is about Rs. 1.2 crore, which in effect means that the total stakes to be doled out during the season will be in the region of Rs. 7.8 crores, a substantial increase from the Rs. 5.4 crores paid out last Winter.

Mr V. Vijayendra Velu, Chairman and Senior Steward of the Bangalore Turf Club, told newsmen this afternoon that discussions were on with the ITC to prevail upon the Invitation Cup title sponsor to either stick to the terms of the agreement requiring it to sponsor the Invitational races or assign its rights of sponsorship. ITC made it known after last year's edition shifted from Kolkata to Bangalore that it was backing out of sponsorship and that it would help the Turf Authorities find another sponsor.

Mr Velu held out reassurances that the BTC was well geared to sustain the level of stakes offered this season in future, even if it had to bear additional burdens on the tax front. Mr Velu put the recovery down to healthy tote turnover but was guardedly optimistic that the BTC could consider a marginal cut in the deductions on the tote, now standing at seven per cent, only if the financial position improved further in the months to come.

Mr Velu agreed that portions of the benefits accruing from the turnover should go back in the form of relief to the punters. ``We will certainly take note of this suggestion,'' Mr Velu said when his attention was drawn to the fact that a marginal reduction in the percentage of gross deduction on win, place and second horse pool may mobilise a bigger turnover.

In its effort to support local ownership, the BTC has revised the scale of performance-linked incentives while doing away with the practice of framing ordinary races exclusively for Karnataka-bred horses. Instead, incentives for Karnataka-bred horses have gone up from 10 per cent to 20 per cent. Besides, two sweepstakes races carrying added money of Rs. 3 lakhs each have been framed for three-year-olds, either bred in Karnataka or leased or purchased under the BTC scheme. The Karnataka Racehorse Owners Association is to chip in Rs. 1.5 lakhs for one of these races.

For the first two weeks racing would be on Saturdays and Sundays. Once Mumbai racing gets underway, Bangalore will race on Fridays and Saturdays. Alongside Bangalore Winter, Mysore's 15-day short winter season would be run mostly on Mondays.

Added money in respect of nine sweepstakes races has been increased from Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 3 lakhs. These nine races are: Kunigal Trophy, Sprinters Trial Stakes, New Millennium Cup, Stayers Trial Stakes, Indian Republic Trophy, Chief Minister's Trophy, Top Most Cup, Ashoka Chakra Cup and Narasimharaja Cup.

To encourage greater participation in Classics, the BTC is introducing supplementary entries apart from Final Entries at stipulated rates:

For a supplementary entry at the time of first forfeit the rate has been fixed at 2.5 times the sweepstakes. It goes up to five times the sweepstakes at the time of second forfeit and 10 times the sweepstakes at the time of final entry.

Following the hue and cry at Mysore regarding the substitution of a full-fledged jockey with an allowance claimer, the BTC has changed its stance. It has brought in a rule that a jockey claiming allowance cannot be substituted in place of a full- fledged jockey.

State of the going: The BTC has at last come up with parameters denoting the `state of the going' in relation to the penetrometer readings. Based on the limited experience of its use in the last two seasons, the BTC has drawn up a chart showing the relative state of the going vis a vis the penetrometer reading. It is as follows: Reading of 2.5 cm - Firm; From 2.5 to 5.5 cm - Good; Above 5.5 cm to 7 cm - Soft; Beyond 7 cm - Heavy.

Board of Appeal: The Board of Appeal has been reconstituted with Mr N. Harinder Shetty as chairman. The other members of the panel are: Mr Amar Lulla, Mr Jayant Shah and Mr P.S. Ramakrishna Reddi. The BTC is awaiting State Government communication on the nomination of Mr T. Madiyal, now that he has relinquished his office to make way for Mr Sangliana as the Bangalore City Commissioner of Police.

Racing dates with classics and big races: November: 3, 4, 10, 11, 16, 17, 23 , 24 (Bangalore 1000 Guineas - Grade II), 30.

December: 1, 7, 8 (Harvins Bangalore 2000 Guineas - Grade II), 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29.

January: 4, 5 (The Hindu Bangalore Oaks), 11, 12, 18, 19 (Herbertsons Bagpiper Gold Bangalore Derby - Grade I), 25, 26 (Indian Republic Trophy).

February: 1, 2 (Bangalore Turf Club Trophy - Grade III), 9 (Chief Minister's Trophy), 15, 16 (A.V. Thomas Million), 22, 23 (Governor's Trophy - Grade III).

March: 2 (Sprinters and Stayers Cup - Grade I), 3 (Indian Turf Invitation Cup - Grade I), 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 (Nanoli Stud Bangalore Juvenile Million - Grade II).

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