November 1, 2016

Madras Race Club

Guindy is a highly crowded and busy area in Chennai city. Millions of people pass through this area as part of their daily commuting. The sub-urban railway station in Guindy is an important and centrally located station in the city. Nevertheless, not many of these regular visitors of Guindy might know that there is a huge area of race course located near the busy railway station and bus stand. Only people who follow and participate in the horse race or those who belong to this area for long time know  about the Guindy Race Course, the oldest race course of India. It's altogether different world and different way of life.

Although the Club was officially set up in 1837 CE, the origin of the race course goes back to 1777 CE when the lands from the villages of Velachery and Venkatapuram were allotted to conduct horse race.

From the very beginning, the functioning of the race course was not always smooth or regular. The horse race was organized not regularly in the beginning. It was even stopped when Hyder Ali was about to invade Madras. Then, after the formation of the club, it was functioning regularly till 1875 CE. Again, there were challenges. In 1887 CE, a new club called Madras Race Club was formed and then it was revived to a great extent. 

With a temporary halt during the World War I and the revival by Lord Willingdon, the Race Course got an important structure, the Guindy Lodge in 1933 CE. 

Even after the independence of India, there were many challenges faced by the Race Course. The horse race was banned in the 1970s. In 1980s, the Government of Tamil Nadu took over the control of the Club. 

Sri M.A.M.Ramaswamy, the industrialist, who passed away in 2015 CE, was the backbone of the Madras Race Club in the post independence period. He won many cases against the Club and supported the Club to function regularly in spite of many challenges. He was known for his interest in the horse racing. He had owned about 1,000 horses once, which became a Guinness record.

The club now houses more than 600 horses. The racing happens only for four months a year, between November and March, in this club. However, you can find people gathered in this place throughout the year. The big TV screens that are hanging all over the place and the technology enable them to buy tickets and bet on the horses for the racing that happen in the other cities as well as watch them live.

Happy travelling.

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