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A Salute To Tradition

The Southern Command Race Day will offer a thrilling military display for regulars

Written by Debjani Paul | Published: September 8, 2013 3:48:31 am

The sun rays caused the military tank and the soldiers’ weapons to glint. Above,the sky reverberated with the chopping sounds of helicopters,as skydivers and paratroopers headed towards the ground. The scene was more like a battlefield than a race course,but it was a day to be remembered at the tracks last year,during the Southern Command Race Day.

Over the years,the Southern Command Race Day has come to be known as one of the highlights of the Pune racing season,and is famed for the grand military displays. “The Southern Command put up a grand show every year,and the history behind the race goes back to more than half a century,” says Vivek Jain,Chairman,Media & Marketing Committee,Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) .

It was the Southern Command,which has leased the race course to the RWITC and the Southern Command Gold Cup was first held on September 4,1948,in the honour of long-standing relations between the Army and the racing tradition. Ever since,it has become a regular feature every season,traditionally hosted on the second Sunday of September.

“Today,we will have another thrilling military display. There will be a Fly Past by the Army Aviation helicopters as well as a sky-diving display. There will be paramotors (motored paragliders) and a display of tent pegging — a traditional horse sport which involves galloping on horses and picking up tent pegs off the ground,” says Brigadier C V Ajay.

The Southern Command Race Day will feature two races — the Field Marshal Manekshaw Memorial Trophy Race at 2.30 pm,and the Southern Command Gold Cup Race at 4 pm. “The Army band also makes an appearance every year,making the entire event a regal affair. The race will be attended by a number of officers from the armed forces,but it is also an opportunity for the race-goers to watch the spectacle,” says Jain.

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