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Sunday, 14 February 2016

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Restoring the gentleman's sport

"Horse racing, the gentleman's sport will be restored to its former glory with the formation of the Royal Turf Club", promised Wayne Wood, inaugural Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Stipendiary Stewards of the RTC , addressing the packed media briefing, held to officially launch the RTC .

Woods was vehement in his affirmation 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!

Sinclair Marshall who takes up the position of Thoroughbred Riding Instructor and Stipendiary Steward of the RTC, said he was delighted to be in Sri Lanka and be part of the team responsible for establishing Sri Lanka as a regional hub for horse racing. Marshall has ridden 8 Derby winners, while he was Champion Jockey on several occasions in the Bombay, Pune, Madras and Mysore Turf Clubs. Headed by equestrian Suranjith Premadasa who is the President of the Royal Turf Club and needs no introduction, the other office bearers of the Royal Turf Club [RTC] are , Secretary Mrs Lucille Dahanayake and Treasurer Nishitha Rupasinghe while the Committee comprises Ranjith Dahanayake, Nihara Jayatilleke and Sudarshana Deshapriya .

Horse racing was first introduced to Sri Lanka in the 1840s by John Baker, with the inaugural race taking place at the Nuwara Eliya Race Course in 1875. In 1910, the then Governor of Ceylon, Sir Henry Edward McCallum, inaugurated the prestigious Governor's Cup as well as the Queen's Cup. During the early 1950's Ceylon horse racing was at it's peak and in fact took pride of place in the entire region.

In 2000 the Ministry of Sports took over the ownership of the Nuwara Eliya Race Course and thereafter, to date it has been managed by the Sugathadasa National Sports Complex Authority, under the Ministry of Sports.The Nuwara Eliya Race Course has a circumference of 1800 metres and is situated at 1868 metres above sea level, in what has proven to be one of the most scenic tracks in the entire region.


Ranjith Dahanayake Committe Member RTC, Mrs Lucille Dahanayake Secretary RTC, Sinclair Marshall - Thoroughbred Riding Instructor and Stipendiary Steward of the RTC , Wayne Wood, inaugural Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Stipendiary Stewards RTC, Nishitha Rupasinghe Treasurer RTC , Panduka , Sudarshana Deshapriya Committee Member RTC

It is the mandate of the RTC to restore the sport of horse racing to its former traditions of gentlemanly conduct and establish it not merely as a sporting activity in Sri Lanka, but to make the Nuwara Eliya Race course the hub of regional horse racing activity , hence promoting Sports Tourism.The RTC have made all the necessary arrangements to establish horse racing as one of the country's premier sports, adhering to international norms and standards.

RTC goes with the motto of 'Horse racing at the highest level' which demonstrates the altitude and also has the meaning of the highest integrity. The forthcoming 2016 season in Nuwara Eliya will see the first race being held on March 20.

The Royal Turf Club have to date made a size-able investment to develop the infrastructure, which includes renovating the track and replacing the track railings, renovating the Grand Stand, Steward Room, Jockey's Rooms, as well as all other Race Course buildings which were in need of extensive repairs.

The RTC intends to continue with its program of development by investing over the next two years, in partnership with foreign investors, to make Sri Lanka and Nuwara Eliya a racing hub for the region.

The RTC, under the guidance of these two renowned names in the global world of horse racing , will herald back the splendour that was once horse racing in Sri Lanka , whilst adding to the longlist of tourist attractions that Sri Lanka has to offer .

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