It’s time for horses and jockeys to enthrall the crowd

When ‘ Little England’ is in full bloom


by Russell Palipane

Many say that April is the best time to be in Nuwara-Eliya, also known as ‘Little England’.

That no doubt is why folks from various parts of Sri Lanka throng the beautiful city up in the hills, despite the prices for accommodation, food and what not being exorbitant, to say the least.

There are many events to keep the crowd enthralled, and taking pride of place in the eyes of many are the horse races, which commenced March 30 and ends on April 20.

Nuwara Eliya boasts of a rich history of horse racing, having become an annual tradition since its inaugural event which was held in 1840. The annual event brings together Lankan steeds, Indian thoroughbreds, Indian jockeys, proud horse owners and the creme of the island’s social scene, in a mutual celebration of all things equine.

The most prestigious event at the Horse Racing Festival Nuwara Eliya 2013, The Governor’s Cup, will see thoroughbreds compete in a nine furlong race, including previous Governor’s Cup champion, ‘Cafe Coffee’, owned by Ms. Nishara Jayaratne of Jayaratne Stables, ridden by Melvyn Maseyk and trained by Sridhar Selvaratnam.

The line-up for the Governor’s Cup also includes ‘Red Key Point’ (ridden by Mohan Raj) and ‘Enchantment’ (ridden by M. D. Shohaib) of Jayaratne Stables, ‘Mr. Majestic’ and ‘Third World’ of Dassanayake Stables and ‘Spark of Gold’ of Anura Delgoda Stables (ridden by K. Ganesh).

The other notable events include the Queens Cup (Class II Thoroughbred - 10 furlongs) with a horse line-up of ‘Flaming Arrow’ of Jayaratne Stables, ‘Stone Ahead’, ‘Eulexite’ and ‘Shyam Sunder’ of Dassanayake Stables and ‘Exquisite Delight’ of C. R. Rajapakse Stables; the Mobitel Cup (Class III Thoroughbred - eight furlongs – Handicap) with ‘Black Cat’, ‘Joanna’, ‘Viking Victor’ and ‘Mia Stella’ forming the line-up; The Mayor’s Cup, sponsored by the Sri Lanka Turf Club (Class IV Thoroughbred - eight furlongs - Handicap); Lemonade Cup, sponsored by Ceylon Cold Stores PLC (Class V Thoroughbred - eight furlongs - Handicap) and an event showcasing Sri Lankan horses (half bred five furlongs - Handicap).

The Horse Racing Festival in Nuwara Eliya is one of the biggest events of the Sri Lankan social and holiday calendar not only for its races. It is also an excuse for the ladies to be seen in their most fashionable racing outfits, varying from the elegant to over-the-top. The hats area display of the wearer’s sartorial savvyness or sense of humour - all reminiscent of the Ascot days of England.

Men too are encouraged to dress up in coats, hats and cravats.

This year, the winners will be given six tickets by SriLankan Airlines, with a chance to fly to international destinations.

Promoted as a family spectacle, a high-profile fashion extravaganza, fun games and activities for children await the horse racing festival. The races are organised by the Turf Club Nuwara Eliya, presided over by the club’s President, Gamin Jayaratne.

The official sponsor for the Governor’s Cup is Entrust Group of Companies, while Macwoods is the sponsor for the Queen’s Cup and Mobitel for the Mobitel Cup.

Also sponsoring the Horse Racing Festival Nuwara Eliya 2013 are Sunquick, Elephant House Lemonade, E. W. Balasuriya & Company (Pvt) Ltd., Janashakthi Insurance PLC, Wickremaratne Group, Panasia Power PLC, SriLankan Airlines, Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya and Kingsbury.


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