Sounding the death-knell?

Chitra V. Ramani

‘It takes a minimum of two-and-a-half years to build a good track’

The Government decision has upset members of the racing community

‘Over 5,000 are directly employed at BTC and they will now be displaced’

Bangalore: The State Government’s decision to seek the shifting of the race course from the heart of the city to villages in Doddajala-Chikkajala has upset members of the racing community and this is the most-talked-about topic at the Bangalore Turf Club here.

While bemoaning the Government decision, S. Marshall, former jockey and president of The Jockeys’ Association of India, said that the oval-shaped Bangalore race track, with its gradients and bends, is considered to be one of the best in the country.

Seasoned track

“The track is seasoned and has withstood wear and tear down decades. This track sees nine months of racing,” he said.

The Bangalore Turf Club is known to be a favourite among aficionados with horses from across the country competing in the derby here.

The club’s website also talks about the merits of the race track: “It is a demanding and testing track that places a premium on both speed and endurance of the horses and skill and experience of the jockeys. A win on the racetrack is therefore a significant achievement.”

Not easy

Sidney Moses, committee member and former trainer, said that shifting of the club is not as simple as that of, say, an office.

“It takes a minimum of two-and-a-half years to build a good track. Add to it another 40 to 50 years for it to become at least half as good as the track here. More than 5,000 people are directly employed at the club. By shifting the club, we will be displacing these people and over 1,000 horses,” he said.

He said the decision to shift the racecourse is unsound. “The racecourse is a lung space in the heart of the city. It is also a landmark. With this, Bangalore will lose another fragment of its identity,” he added.

Logistical problems

D.P. Dinesh, member, suggested that the Government could retain five acres of land at the present location, maintain the clubhouse and provide shuttle services to the new location.

However, he said that shifting the racecourse would sound the death-knell for racing in Bangalore.

“Most members have their own business and we take time out to go to the races because we have passion for the sport.

“If it is shifted, many members may not be able to make it to the racecourse on racing day due to the distance and the time factor. Racing may soon lose its charm in Bangalore,” he said.

Satish N. Gowda, another member, said the charge that racecourse is causing traffic problem is baseless.

“The relocation will affect a large number of people. At a later date, if the Government proposes a high-rise building in its place, the traffic will naturally increase,” he said.

Recommended for you