Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Indian Turf Invitation Cup - The History

The Indian Turf Invitation Cup was first run at Mahalaxmi in 1963. Run in rotation every year, it returns to Mahalaxmi after a gap of 6 years. A contest for champions, a race to decide the best four year old in the country. This was the raison d'etre for instituting the Indian Turf Invitation Cup in 1963. Traditionally run on the first Sunday of March ever since, the race is now the centre point of what has developed into an invitational weekend of Graded Races, showcasing the best of Indian bloodstock.

The race and the Indian thoroughbred owe a great debt to Shri K. M. Munshi, who as Home Minister in the Bombay Presidency in the 1930s, encouraged the framing of races exclusively for Indian bred horses. Mumbai took the logical step in 1943 of framing Classic races for Indian breds, the three and four year old age group patterned on the lines of the English classics. They are only Classic races run at that time with "Indian" tag.

The RCTC which controlled racing in most of undivided India and Burma from Calcutta had depended on imported horses for their important events such as Calcutta Gold Cup, The Queen Elizabeth II Cup. It was after independence, RCTC & South India Turf Club with headquarters in Madras started their own Derbys in 1954 and 1958, as time changed, they added other Classics as well.

Thus each centre claiming superior status for regional classics, an All India Champion's Trophy was required, the three turf clubs namely RWITC, RCTC & SITC decided on such a race in Calcutta, and the first Invitation Cup was run the following year in Bombay.

The system adopted was for the three clubs to nominate up to six of their best four year olds to run by Invitation; at level weights over the traditional distance of one and a half miles i.e.2400 m. The race to crown the champion four year old in the country was initially rotated among three Turf Clubs. Bangalore and Hyderabad which attained independent status later joined hands and now the race rotates among the five turf clubs which constitute "the Turf Authorities of India. "

The owner who has won this race maximum number of times till date is Dr. M.A. M. Ramaswamy (11). The professionals who have won this race maximum number of times till date is Trainer R. R. Byramji (12) and Jockey P. Shroff (6), while Trainer S. Ganapathy has won this race 4 times in a row.

"Red Rufus", "Squanderer", " Almanac" & "Smart Chieftan" form the quartet who have achieved the distinction of winning the Indian Turf Invitation Cup as well as the Indian Triple Crown.

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