Indian horseracing stalwart Cyrus Madan optimistic of RTC’s comeback effort

Tuesday, 16 February 2021 00:47 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Cyrus J. Madan


With the April holidays around the corner, Royal Turf Club (RTC), Sri Lanka’s only and active governing entity for the sport of horseracing, is gearing up to make a potential, yet sturdy comeback despite the challenges faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With the background being gradually set for the Horseracing Festival in Nuwara Eliya, Indian horseracing stalwart Cyrus J. Madan, the former President of Royal Calcutta Turf Club, outlined the importance of welcoming RTC’s comeback season with positive energy, as challenges lie ahead for the club based in Nuwara Eliya.

“Sri Lanka has managed the COVID-19 pandemic probably the best in the South Asian region and the RTC should leverage on this achievement by making a much-awaited return to the sport of horseracing at this year’s Nuwara Eliya derby,” Cyrus J. Madan said in a Skype interview. 

“Over the past few years, the madam president and her team at the RTC has hosting great races that have created a following in the region and I have no doubt despite the pandemic the RTC will host a memorable derby once again,” Madan further said.   

“To have all activities shut down for a longer period, for reasons that are beyond control, and to think of a restart is much harder than starting off something from scratch. It’s a known fact that the coronavirus pandemic has caused devastation around the globe. Making a comeback after such destructive era, is a real challenge, and I’m sure with the strong and positive individuals being positioned to administer RTC, this will be another great comeback.”

Madan, who currently serves as Chairman of Stipendiary Stewards, has been involved with RTC since its inception as Consultant, alongside veteran horseracing experts Sinclair Marshall and Wayne Wood, from Australia. Though the present pandemic situation restricts travelling around the globe, as an official with an assignment Madan is willing to join RTC soon, yet he is highly engaged with the sport back in India, where horseracing is virtually an industry. 

Despite having just one racecourse remaining and active in Nuwara Eliya, Madan defined that Sri Lanka too has the potential of making horseracing a professional sport. This, he said, is a possibility only if misconceptions are being taken off and with state support. RTC’s comeback season, which has been planned with a tentative calendar of four races through March and April, he said would be the ideal platform to clear off the said grey areas, according to Madan. 

“RTC has had the right people administering the sport. Funding and popularising are the hinges which will decide whether racing will survive. The racecourse in Nuwara Eliya is ideally one of the best, superbly laid out and put together racetracks of the region. With all these coming in as blessings, RTC needs a few more bits to do, to make this sport more stable in Sri Lanka,” explained Mr. Madan, the President of Royal Calcutta Turf Club for five years from 2007.   

Madan, a former race commentator, sports journalist, an administrator and an official with a wealth of knowledge, explained how races are currently conducted in India, where the second highest coronavirus cases are recorded globally. 

“After almost eight months since the pandemic, Indian racing gradually clawing its way back. Initially races were held behind closed doors and without spectators, but that has now opened up. Now spectators are allowed to come in. Race clubs have taken a huge hit during the lockdown and most clubs have slashed stake money of some races and also reduced the number of race days. Fortunately, horseracing in India is virtually an industry and its stakeholders have managed to sustain. The biggest plus that has emerged is permission to certain clubs to have online betting sanctioned by their respective State Governments. This could be a game changer,” Madan detailed.

Presently, Madan is very much in touch from India with the RTC officials, who are clearing all the hurdles to have the annual horseracing events such as the Governor’s Cup and the lavish Magic Million Cup races. RTC is currently making all necessary pre-arrangements to obtain clearance and adhere to protocols and recommendations for the forthcoming season, which will be held under the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Sports and Ministry of Health.