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Royal cup on royal turf

- Buckingham Palace trophy for winter’s social racing finale

Racing as a spectator sport has always enjoyed a touch of royalty in Calcutta — be it the princely patrons, the regal horses or the pearl- peppered stands — but this weekend the blue-blooded bond will stretch from the Maidan right to Buckingham Palace!

On Saturday, the Royal Calcutta Turf Club will host the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Grade III), in association with The Telegraph.

“The Queen Elizabeth II Cup is the modern-day link with the royal and imperial history of RCTC,” said club CEO Jayant Jaipal Singh.

The trophy comes from Buckingham Palace every year — a tradition that continues from the time the queen visited the Calcutta races in February 1961. The gold-plated cup is received by the British deputy high commission and displayed at a dinner at RCTC on the eve of the race.

Saturday’s races start at 1.15pm and the Queen’s Cup race is the seventh in line. It is the longest race of the season at 2,800m.

Club veterans say this is the last day of “social racing” and promises a combination of sweepstakes, speed and style. Anit Casyab, the race course manager and commentator, said the highlights of Saturday include a ladies’ hat competition and prizes for the best dressed she and he.

The total stake money for the Queen’s Cup race is over Rs 20 lakh, plus a jackpot of around Rs 10 lakh.

Entry tickets for the members’ enclosure will be available at the club gates for Rs 200 per head.