Horseracing: Former rugby stalwart, Kanagasabai now heads RTC

4 May 2019 - 72   - 0

Newly elected President of the Royal Turf Club (RTC), the local entity in-charge of horseracing in Sri Lanka, Ranjan Kanagasabai, ensures a flowing calendar of 'extremely valued' events in the coming months, after the season was kicked off last week in Nuwara Eliya. 

Kanagasabai, a rugby stalwart, who represented the mighty CH&FC as a No.8 during the mid 1980s, went on to become the President of the Gymkhana Club after serving for many years as a member of its Executive Committee. 

With an abundance of experience in sports administration, Kanagasabai, comes in as the third President of RTC, which hosted a grand season opener with the RTC Spring and Summer Raceday on 31st of March. 

"It was a wonderful and successful raceday, which comes after a collective effort of the RTC team. The crowd, that came in numbers showed that horseracing is a glamarous entertainment sport, that needs to be carefully preserved. The event held last Sunday was my first as the President and I take pride of my dynamic team to comprehensively planning out all aspects," stated Kanagasabai, on his first outing as the boss of RTC. 

A holder of a Masters Degree in Business Administration from United Kingdom, and an avid and efficient administrator, Kanagasabai hopes to adhere new methods to one of the oldest sports to remain in Sri Lanka, with an uninterrupted run of events. 

He intends of taking horseracing to greater height, with plans to make further inroads to see the much respected sport reach its glory days. 

Once regarded as unethical, due to cultural and social components of the country, the RTC is thriving through its action plans to make Sri Lanka a hub for horseracing in the region. 

"One of our key areas will be to touch the global stage. The RTC has already met horseracing bodies from India, South Korea and Japan and are planning to expand our activities through different programmes. One such is the possibility of having horses from other countries to compete in Sri Lanka, where in return we would open doors to many opportunities. It could contribute to Sports Tourism, empower the locals from the Nuwara Eliya region with employment opportunities, while opening doors to local horse owners and stable owners to field their horses and jockeys at events in other countries" Kanagasabai explained. 

To get its system straightened, the RTC had to start from the very bottom of the line. 

It had to obtain support from the Ministry of Sports, the authorities of the City of Nuwara Eliya and other stakeholders to begin work from the scratch. 

With the enthusiastic set of officials, in 2015, the RTC began its development project gradually. 

"So far the RTC has had a tough but very successful journey. I came on board on an invitation from the Executive Committee in 2017 as the Secretary, and I was impressed by the efficiency and professionalism of the team. I am more proud to be the third President of RTC since its inception in 2015. We have many plans drawn up, which will be revealed in due course". 

The RTC becomes Sri Lanka first sports entity to open its doors to conduct Anti-Doping Tests on horses. 

So far, since 2015, the Sri Lanka Anti Doping Agency (SLADA) has conducted random tests on horses and they take pride in boasting to remain as a clean sport. 

In 2018, the SLADA has conducted six tests at RTC events and according to Dr. Seevalie Jayawickrama, none tested positive, while nine athletes have tested positive from five sports after 276 tests. 

"This is a noteworthy record to be proud of to all horse owners. The RTC has worked according to the guidelines of the Ministry of Sports and higher authorities to be among the best administered bodies in Sri Lanka. The RTC was even recognised at the meeting of the Asian and Oceanian Stud Book Committee in South Korea, thus initiating the first steps towards being recognised internationally as an Emerging Stud Book Country. We have progressed while upholding our values and trust among stakeholders and followers. We have plans to continue the good work in the coming months too," he recalled. 

The RTC has spent a heap of money to develop the existing facilities and add new features at the Racecourse in Nuwara Eliya through the funds generated from sponsorships and other incomes. 

All records of earning and spending are well recorded and audited to make sure transparency is adhered through the entire process and projects. 

The rapid development projects of RTC has convinced many including the horserace lovers, the spectators and most importantly the higher echelon of administration, including the Ministry of Sport, and the Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council. 

With added features such as a Equine Hospital, a Equine Ambulance and a Resident Veterinarian, not only the horses that are competing, but even horses owned others such as Sri Lanka Police, have benefited. 

Alongside Kanagasabai, Diraj de Almeida was appointed as the Secretary while Nishitha Rupasinghe continues as the Treasurer of RTC. 

The RTC conducted two races during the holiday season and has more races planned for months to follow, with many other activities lined up.

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