Mahalaxmi Racecourse
LocationMahalaxmi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Coordinates18°59′02″N 72°49′12″E / 18.984°N 72.82°E / 18.984; 72.82Coordinates: 18°59′02″N 72°49′12″E / 18.984°N 72.82°E / 18.984; 72.82
Owned byGovernment of Maharashtra[1]
Date opened1883
Notable racesMcDowell's Indian Derby
Official website

The Mahalaxmi Racecourse is a horse racing track in Mahalaxmi neighbourhood of Mumbai. The track is oval shaped with 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) straight chute, spread over approximately 225 acres (0.91 km2; 0.352 sq mi) of open land in the heart of Mumbai city. It was created out of a marshy land known as Mahalakshmi Flats. Built in 1883 and modelled on the Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne, it is spread over land facing the sea.

The racecourse was originally donated by Sir Cusrow N Wadia and today it is on lease from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to Royal Western India Turf Club which runs the racecourse. The Grandstand, off the course, is a designated heritage structure.[2][3] The racecourse is the only helipad open for civilian use in South Mumbai.[4]

Overview

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Jockey B. Prakash on Fractious Fav Secret Memory.
Jockey B. Prakash on Fractious Fav Secret Memory.

The horse racing season starts in mid-November and ends in the last week of April. On the first Sunday in February, the Derby is conducted annually and is attended by many of the city's glitterati. Since the year 1986 till date McDowell's Indian Derby has been sponsored by liquor baron Vijay Mallya's UB Group under the name of flagship company McDowells Co. Ltd. as The McDowell's Indian Derby.

The common Mumbaikar has access to the racecourse in the mornings and evenings during specified timings for exercising, walking or jogging in the inner lane of the main horse race track. The racecourse has also transformed many common Mumbaikars to Marathoners. Yoga sessions akin to Tai-chi are conducted in the garden situated within the race-track during the common permissible timings, akin to "Happy Valley Racecourse" in Hong Kong. Lessons for horse-riding are also provided by Amateurs Riders Club. In the evenings, dogs are also allowed to be walked, but one has to check the permissibility. On weekends it is common to find Aero-Modelling hobbyists flying planes on the polo ground, performing aerial acrobats with motorized radio-controlled planes during non-racing days. The ground is also used as a heli-pad. Lately, they have even started with providing newspapers in the morning to the joggers.

99-year lease debate

The land on which the racetrack sits was leased to the Royal Western India Turf Club for 99 years, ending 31 May 2013.[5]

Some people feel the land should be converted into a public park.[6] Others are sceptical about the park plan and feel it will become full of slums and encroachments.[7]

The state government favors leasing out the racecourse for another 30 years.[1]

It is currently leased for Rs 56 lakh/year.[1] The new rates will be Rs 42 crore/year and increase every 5 years.[1]

Arguments for maintaining the racecourse

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 June 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "The Mahalaxmi Race Course". Royal Western India Turf Club.
  3. ^ "Civic body issues eviction notice to Turf Club". Indian Express. 8 May 2010.
  4. ^ V, Manju (28 July 2011). "Drive to Juhu or main airport only route left". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e Zodge, Vinayak; Deshpande, Alok (13 May 2013). "Sena eyes race course land for Bal Thackeray's memorial". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  6. ^ Chandrashekhar, Vaishnavi (13 June 2013). "Central Park Dreams Trigger a Battle in Mumbai". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Don't hurry turf club renewal: Activists on Mahalaxmi race course | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Park on racecourse will render 5,000 jobless | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2018.