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Determined to improve state of racing: Zavaray Poonawalla

Poonawalla said the RWITC is a rocky boat, facing financial issues, absent bookmakers as well as dwindling faith of fans in racing.

Written by Ruchika Goswamy | Pune | Updated: September 19, 2019 9:01:15 am
The racing season kicks off in the city on Thursday at the Pune Race Course. (File)

To improve the state of Indian racing, newly-elected Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) chairman Zavaray Poonawalla said they would focus on improving the sport’s image.

Poonawalla said the RWITC is a rocky boat facing critical financial stature, absent bookmakers as well as dwindling faith of fans in racing.

“We are determined… to bring RWITC out of the doldrums… Similarly, we are focusing on improving the image of the sport by making it cleaner. That being said, the job at hand is not easy as we only get a year to work on our objectives. We will tackle the troubles and the committee is not shy of using money from its pockets to restore the sport,” said Poonawalla.

Milan Luthria, a member of the RWITC committee, said, “We are working to bring back the bookmakers, increase footfall and restore the stake money.”

Aside from Poonawalla and Luthria, the committee comprises Zinia Lawyer, Geoffrey B Nagpal and S R Sanas, who won with a landslide mandate. They have one year to implement measures and improve the state of the sport.

Poonawalla said the underlying major issues have to do with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and bookmakers. He said that by bringing back bookmakers, the committee aims to stabilise deficit financing. In the case of GST, they have approached the government authorities concerned and are hopeful of a relaxation in the norm, which they said would benefit the sport.

“We need to make the game cleaner in order to draw in more sponsors. Moreover, we would be venturing into social media and other online platforms to get new, younger generations into racing,” said committee member Lawyer.

The committee also hopes to revive night races and make them a permanent event in the racing calendar.

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