When it comes to horse racing in India, Madras Race Club stands out. This club has a rich history in the Indian culture. At its main gate, you are welcomed by the famed iron horseshoe. The venue may be old, but it’s well-groomed. Moreover, you can always expect action-packed horse race events at the Madras Race Club.
What you might not know is that the Madras Race Club began in the 17th century. In 1780, people who owned small plots where this club sits today decided to give it to the government. They wanted a proper horse race club, and the government obliged to set one up. However, it would take over 50 years to lay out a bona fide race club. In due course, the government built two spectacular tracks. One would be used for horse racing and the other one for training.
The Royal visit by Edward VII
When Edward VII was a young Prince of Wales, he embarked on a journey to visit the Madras Race Club. His presence drew out large crowds at the club. This would catapult the club into new heights of popularity.
Despite early fears that this club wouldn’t become a fan favorite, it continued to attract lots of horse race enthusiasts, even after the royal visit. Due to unprecedented attendance, the Madras Race Club that people love today was officially launched.
As of today, the Madras Race Club is undoubtedly the oldest racecourse in the country.
Over the years, this club has undergone some upgrades, including the addition of a weighing room and a lodge in the 1930s.
Previously the Madras Race Club was under the Calcutta Turf Club, but in the 1960s it became an independent race club.
The Madras Classics
The Classics are the most notable horse races that take place at the Madras Race Club. There are five of them. They mark the importance of this venue. It hasn’t always been easy as the Madras has had to fight for survival over the years. One of the most remarkable challenges it had to overcome is the government’s 1970 ban on horse races. Astonishingly, the Madras Race Club took the battle to court, won and normal operations at the racecourse resumed.
Some of the most revered classics at the Madras Race Club include;
- Nilgiri 1000 Guineas
- Nilgiri 2000 Guineas
- Nilgiri Derby Stake
The Madras Race Club Today
Today, the Madras Race Club continues to flourish. In 1996, the club had to fight at the Supreme Court so that Indians could be allowed to bet on horse races offline.
Due to that victory, you can now enjoy horse races as well as bet on them. On-site counters where bettors can buy tickets are also available. This gives horse race fans a lot to look forward to at the racecourse.
Madras Race Club Seasons
With two independent race tracks, the Madras Race Club has 3 seasons. One season is held at the Ooty race track and happens to be the smallest. The other two seasons are held at the Chennai track, which is the largest among the two. The 3 seasons are;
The Ooty Summer Meet- This runs from May to June
Madras Monsoon Races- This season runs from August to October
Madras Winter Meeting– Runs from November to March
Ooty Summer Meet
The Ooty summer meet is usually the shortest season. It comprises ten races spread out across several months. It brings out 50 jockeys and 500 horses to the venue annually. The climax of this season is the famous Nilgiri Gold Cup.
Madras Winter Meeting
The Madras winter meetings take place at the Guindy racing track located in Chennai. This season runs for the longest time. Stretching from November to March, this season has a total of 32 race days with about 200 races. It stands out because it is not interrupted by the heavy rains that fall during the monsoon season.
Madras Monsoon Races
This season falls in between the Ooty summer meet and the Madras winter meeting. It is a medium season with 20 racing days and 120 races.
Is it legal to bet at the Madras Race Club?
India is a nation that has clamped down on betting, especially in games of chance. Betting is limited and largely prohibited within its borders.
In terms of legality, the Madras Racing club has in the past found itself at odds with the government. However, it has fought fiercely to keep this type of betting open to horse racing enthusiasts.
The 1996 win at the Supreme Court left the government with no option but to lift the ban on horse racing.
This remarkable win has made it possible for Indians to not only watch but also participate in horse race betting freely. Moreover, most of the people who grace the racecourse relish backing their favourite horses to win.
Horse race betting is strictly done offline. Normally there are on-site and off-site counters. This where punters buy tickets.
The on-site counters allow you to watch the horse race live and cheer on your favourite horse. At the off-site counters, you don’t have to watch the race. With that being said, it is legal to bet at the Madras Race Club offline.
Online Betting at the Madras Race Club
Online betting in India is a grey area. You’ll find that there are no online betting sites that operate from India. Nonetheless, the law on online betting is somewhat vague. That said, Indian horse racing punters enjoy betting on some of the best horse racing betting sites in India.
Numerous sites allow punters to bet in INR. These are the best sites as there are no additional forex exchange fees. If you’d love to bet on horse races, it is prudent to always use a site that accepts the INR.
The BII Final Verdict
The Madras Race Club continues to offer Indians the best horse race action. It continues to go strong and consistently attracts millions of fans annually. With its strong background, Indian horse racing fans can always expect more.
Related Horse Race Clubs
- Bangalore Race Club
- Delhi Race Club
- Hyderabad Race Club
- Madras Race Club
- Mysore Race Club
- Royal Calcutta Turf Club
- Guindy Race Course