Caders promote and foster Sri Lanka Turf Club

It is popularly stated that horse racing is the ‘Sport of Kings. His Highness the Aga Khan, Prince Ali Khan, His Highness Sheik Mohamed Mahktoom and Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth are a few international examples.

In Sri Lanka, the Cader brothers, the sons of the late I. A. Cader who was the former President and Chairman, Board of Stewards of the Sri Lanka Turf Club are jointly sponsoring and presenting a Cup on the 18th of April 2008 called ‘The Bahiya Cup’ in the name of their mother, whose birthday falls on the same date.

"We look forward to taking a more active part in future, by making more valued contributions and attracting many more sponsors for races," was the encouraging and invigorating message delivered to the present President Dhammika Attygalle, Rajan Sellamuttu (Chairman Board of Stewards) and its Hony Secretary, Rajah Sinnathuray.

Present President Dhammika Attygalle is the nephew of the late Upali Wijewardene and grand nephew of late Senator Sarath Wijesinghe who were Chairman of the Board of Stewards of the Sri Lanka Turf Club.

Under this able leadership, the Sri Lanka Turf Club is moving from strength to strength and are committed to providing a contribution to keep the club flag flying in memory of our late father’s contribution and service and above all his and our love of horses.

The late I. A. Cader was a multi faceted personality who wa’s illustrious in several fields. He was a Member of Parliament, Deputy Speaker, Senator and Ambassador as well as being a prominent turfite.

He was the proud owner of many class one thoroughbred horses. A few that come to ones mind are ‘Faladah’ and ‘Sports Summary’. The latter won the prestigious ‘Amarasuriya Cup’ sponsored by the Galle Gymkhana Club in 1960, when ridden bb Ajit Chitty with much flair and expertise as well as winning the much sought after ‘The Bank Shroff’s Cup’ in 1961.

In tracing the history of horse racing in Sri Lanka, it is interesting to note that the 37 acre Nuwara Eliya race course was originally taken on a 99 year government lease with the first signatory being Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike. The Turf Club is one of the oldest clubs in Sri Lanka, established in 1840.

Horse racing in Sri Lanka was at its height in the 1950s and 1960s. After the 1960s, when the import duty on horses was raised and racing publications were banned, there was no thoroughbred racing for about 15 years. With the reduction of import duty in 1978, interest in the sport was revived and enthusiasts once again got involved in importing horses.

Despite the ‘Sport of Kings’ being banned in the country during the 1960s, it was revived in early 1970s initially as Pony racing and subsequently horse racing in Nuwara Eliya. The late I. A. Cader along with the late Upali Wijewardene, the late Vasantha Coomaraswamy, the late Mervyn Perera, Upathissa Hulugalle, Bernard Halahackone, Ajit Chitty, Sirimevan Senanayake, Devinda Senanayake, Rajan Sellamuttu, Shehan Wijeratne and Ajantha De Zoysa are a notable few responsible for this renewed interest and revival.

The lateUpali Wijewardene was one of the most noteworthy turfites from Sri Lanka who had many horses competing and winning overseas in early 80s, such as ‘The Royal Ascot’ in England, ‘The Singapore Derby’ in Singapore, ‘The Perak Derby’ in Malaysia and ‘The Melbourne Cup’ in Australia. Today Rajan Sellamuttu and Gamini Jayaratne are a couple of individuals who continue to fly the Sri Lankan flag with their horses competing in prestigious races overseas.

Large crowds, both local and from overseas traditionally throng the April horse race meets conducted by the Sri Lanka Turf Club and this year would be no exception. In addition, the thrills of horse racing one is always fortunate to witness the latest eye catching fashions adorned by the ladies at the meet.

The main event in the Sri Lanka Horse Racing Calendar for 10 Furlongs is the ‘Governor’s Cup’ which will be sponsored by Hilton Hotel Colombo to celebrate its 21st Anniversary.

On the 18th of April 2008, besides the ‘Bahiya Cup ’the Turf Club will be holding a further five race meets for thoroughbred and half bred horses. These races are for ‘Grand Hotel Cup’ sponsored by Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya, ‘Nescafe Cup’ sponsored by Nestle Lanka PLC, ‘Mackwoods Labookelle Cup’ sponsored by Mackwoods Plantations (Pvt) Ltd, ‘Sumathi Cup’ sponsored by U. W. Sumathipala & Sons, ‘Sporting Times Cup’ sponsored by E. W. Balasuriya and ‘Mobitel Mayor’s Cup’ sponsored by Mobitel (Pvt) Ltd.

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