The Royal Turf Club (RTC) in Nuwara Eliya has paved the way for a massive development drive as its pioneer president Suranjith Premadasa ended his two-year term on January 31, 2017.
A veteran sportsman and the president of several clubs, it was with much sadness that the Committee bade farewell to Premadasa who contributed immensely towards horse racing in Sri Lanka but who will stay around as a Committee member of the Club.
Panduka Keerthinanda, a well-known lawyer and an authority on Sports Law was appointed the new president while Ranjan Kanagasabe was appointed secretary for a new two-year term.
Keerthinanda comes with a wealth of experience in managing sports, sporting venues and events in Sri Lanka while Kanagasabe is a former Chairman of the Gymkhana Club.
Keerthinanda said his primary objectives are to establish a place for the RTC among the top racing clubs in the world, animal health and welfare and safety for all participants.
“Attracting larger numbers of horses is very important because it causes multiple spin-offs including at least one direct and multiple indirect jobs per horse for the youth of Nuwara Eliya.
“A properly-run race course is a major attraction for foreign investment. We must attract foreign horse owners who will bring direct investment to purchase horses in Sri Lanka in addition to meeting monthly costs of maintaining horses and ensuring a steady flow of foreign exchange into the country. The only way we can do this is by raising the standards of racing in Sri Lanka to international levels”, said Keerthinanda.
He said that Nuwara Eliya saw a significant increase in sports tourism in the 2016 horse racing season with the number of visitors nearly doubling.
The RTC has a development budget of Rs 700 million for a VIP Lounge, public utilities such as toilets and water, saddling enclosure, railings, fencing all around the race course, building special sea containers for horse transportation, stores, riding simulator for a jockey training centre, racing gates, horse ambulance, watering system for the racing track, sampling area for dope testing on horses and Sri Lanka’s very first state- of- the-art Equine Hospital and Veterinary Training Centre.
The RTC said a Grandstand, Race Course Office, Stewards Room, Jockey Room, Entrance, New Bund School, Stables and Main Grass Track have already been upgraded.