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A trot through the revamped RCTC

Alastair Cook trotted into Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) with teammates to spend the afternoon of December 3 at the races. Six afternoons later, the dishy Team England captain cantered to a win at the Eden Gardens.

If Cook was the thoroughbred to back on the cricket pitch in the first week of December, the rest of the winter weeks will give punters many a race horse to bet on.

And there is a lot more than just races at RCTC now as one heads for the members’ stand to secure a nice cosy seat –– the freshly painted white building on the left with a glass façade, open balconies and a grand look.

“The racing season has started getting busier and more competitive at RCTC,” said a visibly excited Anit Casyab, the assistant general manager (racing) and commentator, about the longest racing season of the year, which started on October 28 and ends on March 30, 2013. Given that the stands overflow with about 20,000 people on January 1, the reserved area should come as a stress-buster. But here comes the twist.

The reserved stands are not just meant to house members and guests on race days... but an in-house restaurant, a billiards and bridge room and a gymnasium. “Earlier the ground floor of the reserved stands had the jockey’s room and weighing room while there was a small hall upstairs. But now the ground floor has rooms for bridge, billiards and a gym. The mezzanine floor will house five corporate boxes (can be booked for the entire season), which comes with sofa sets, TV and lunches. Right behind the corporate boxes is the restaurant-cum-bar,” said Casyab while taking t2 through the stands.

The hall on the top floor remains but no longer can it be described as “small”. The birdcage lift swiftly climbs to the second floor and opens onto a balcony with sofa sets lined up along the walls, punctuated by potted plants. Behind the balcony lies a huge banquet hall with round tables and seating arrangements meant to host serious conferences and glitzy parties.

With some of the biggest races of the season coming up, the first ready-to-go portion of the stands is the Stewards Room, which comes furnished with a U-shaped wooden table and chair, a huge LCD bang in the middle, while old and original oil paintings from the storage room have found their rightful place –– on the room’s walls.

“We hope that everyone loves the new stands and the giant screen installed between the Grand and Members’ Stand. The renovated stand is going to be partly air-conditioned and so the glass… but it sure gives a classy look on the outside and inside,” signed off Casyab.

Book your dates

December 15 — The Nanoli Stud Calcutta Gold Cup (Grade II)
December 22 — The Ladies’ Derby: 2,400m Poonawalla Stud Calcutta Oaks
January 1 — The New Year Day Races
January 12 and 13 — Derby Weekend with Eveready Calcutta Derby Stakes
February 9 — Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Grade III)
March 2 and 3 — The 51st Indian Turf Invitation Cup (coming to the city after five years)
March 16 — Calcutta St. Leger (Grade III)

Sreyoshi Dey