A new chapter opens in horse racingView(s):
The official launch of the Royal Turf Club (RTC) last Tuesday promises a new chapter in horse racing in Sri Lanka with its prime focused on curbing misconduct and increasing the number participants of thoroughbreds.
Wayne Wood, the inaugural Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RTC, delivering the keynote at the launch, pointed out that space will not be permitted for manipulation, allow owners to use performance enhancing substances on horses or anything that will tarnish the image of horse racing at all. “We are looking at restoring horse racing, considered as the gentleman’s sport, to its former glory through the launch of the Royal Turf Club. It will take time but including true quality to a sport that has been in Sri Lanka since 1840, but it’s the need of the hour. There are different programmes planned under many perspectives, which we hope to implement effectively,” Wood, who has agreed to work with RTC for a period of two years, told the Sunday Times.
One of the many outlooks Wood intends to focus into seriously is the doping issue, which became a serious matter during last year’s annual Governor’s Cup held in Nuwara Eliya. A team of doctors headed by Dr. Seevali Jayawickrama, the head of Sri Lanka Anti Doping Agency, were present to conduct a urine sample collection process on horses on Race day but were disallowed by race officials, under Sri Lanka Turf Club (SLTC).
The matter took another turn when it was taken up to the Police the same day. Later on that day, the result of the Governor’s Cup was decided as null and void after a false start and the race was schedule for a re-run a week later. Horse races in Nuwara Eliya have not been held ever since.
The RTC taking over operations of the Nuwara Eliya Racecourse, the only facility available in the country, will put the 144-year-old SLTC out of the horse racing picture in Sri Lanka. The SLTC President, Gamini Jayaratne refrained from making a comment right away on the development but assured the Sunday Times that the century-old Turf Club will make an official announcement in the coming weeks.
Woods was a firm believer of the fact that the manipulation of horse racing rules and misconduct on the race course, where doping of horses and other unethical practices held sway, were now a thing of the past. “The past is past. We did not come here to talk about the past and dwell in an unwanted space. We are concerned about the future of horse racing in Sri Lanka. From now on there will be no room left for unfair racing. Anyone will enjoy the freedom to include a horse at races but we will make sure it’s been run in a professional way,” Wood, a stern administrator with experience of over 35 years working at different parts of the world, added.
Wood also revealed RTC’s plans in allowing ten individuals joining together to buy a race horse, that will make the sport more open for the ordinary. Alongside Wood, Sinclair Marshall takes up the position of Thoroughbred Riding Instructor and Stipendiary Steward of the RTC. Both have combined experiences of over 100 years as former champion riders, trainers and administrators.
The RTC is headed by Suranjith Premadasa as its President while the Secretary is Lucille Dahanayake. With Nishitha Rupasinghe as the Treasurer, the Committee Members are: Ranjith Dahanayake, Nihara Jayatilleke and Sudarshana Deshapriya. The RTC will get to act with its first race scheduled for March 20 at the fully restored Nuwara Eliya Racecourse, the only location for horse racing in Sri Lanka. In April races will be held during four weekends. Two weekends have been slotted for races in August and September while in October, November and December RTC plans to conduct at least a race each.