Pune: Pune, the other centre at which the Royal Western India Turf Club conducts racing is entirely different and perhaps refreshingly so. The course is picturesque in the monsoons and there is the Club House, which is ready to welcome racegoers this weekend as racing season gets going.
There was something about the English character in which combat on a battlefield was always followed by a recreational activity.
The Third Maratha War ended in 1918 and the very next year, racing was first held in Pune on March 3 and the English resident, Elphinstone, who had been quite magnanimous in arriving at a settlement with the deposed Peshwa, presented a cup valued at 100 guineas.
It caught on immediately and in 1830 it was decided to “auction the Race Bungalow” and “move to a new site where a Grandstand would be built.”
This new site in Cantonment area was opposite the Empress Garden and that is where racing has been held ever since.
The Pune racecourse thus has a long, unbroken history than its counterpart at Mahalakshmi.
Though the inaugural Meeting was held in March, Pune has traditionally been a “monsoon” centre with racing taking place during the wet months.
For many years, top Kolkata horses came over to Pune for their “summer spelling” and got ready; for the big “Cup Races” on their home turf in the winter.
The track at Pune is tighter and more undulating than the one at Mahalakshmi. It has a shorter “run-in” and the variable underfoot conditions do, at times, make for unexpected results.