RTC aiming to conduct racedays from March 17
Royal Turf Club (RTC) is hoping to end its event drought which came to affect after April last year.
RTC President Panduka Keerthinanda stated that it has intentions of bringing back its usual racedays which constantly got delayed due to various reasons.
“We are planning to hold four racedays, one in March and three in April. Up to this point we had many setbacks including natural reasons, and lately it was the unavailability of the racecourse in Nuwara Eliya. We have managed to momentarily overcome these situations and go for a race day,” Keerthinanda said.
The latest confirmed date for a raceday as allocated by the RTC will be on March 17 followed by three racedays on three different weekends in April.
Since end April 2017 the RTC has failed to conduct any race despite slotting dates in from August till the end of the year.
Either the races were affected by rain or RTC faced other obstacles in its failure to conduct races.
Adding to its list of woes, the RTC faced another obstacle with the Sugathadasa National Sports Complex Authority (SNSCA), under which the Nuwara Elliya Racecourse comes under.
When the RTC was established in 2015, it had a long term agreement with the Sugathadasa National Sports Complex Authority.
Under the agreement the Nuwara Eliya Racecourse was fully refurbished after a major facelift project where a huge sum of money was dumped.
But the agreement came to an end in December 2017 and the SNSCA came up with a different plan, where the right to hold events at the Nuwara Eliya Racecourse could be obtained for a period of six months, only after a tender procedure.
After protests made by several groups, including the RTC, the tender procedure was called off but according to Keerthinanda, the SNSCA has failed to respond to the verbal and written requests made by them.
With the situation sitting unchanged, it is unclear on how the RTC obtained the green light to conduct four races in the coming two months.
Prior to the new fixed dates RTC were on the verge of partnering with Sri Lanka Turf Club (SLTC) and the Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA) to conduct races, but due to unknown reasons the coalition never materialised.
“TROA is only interested in holding regular races to keep the thoroughbred horses in prime condition, and we are not interested in any other matter than that. We want our horses to be active and owners spend a lot of money to maintain them. We really do not bother who conducts them, but as ardent horse owners, our need is to have regular races. But since almost an year there has been nothing happening,” a senior official of TROA stated.
However RTC officials state that they have begun being active with trainers, stable staff, medical officials and race track workers getting back to work from this month.
Keerthinanda went on to say that despite constant requests the failure of SNSCA has failed to cooperate with the RTC so far while almost two months of 2018 have already gone by.
“We have not yet obtained clearance or a letter from SNSCA officially stating where the RTC stands, but we were promised of an extension of duration, which is yet to come to us in writing. We are however eager to conduct the planned four races and confident that RTC would finally go ahead with races again. We have positive responses from all corners,” stated Keerthinanda.