The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gen. Roychowdhury talks tough on RCTC revival plans

Calcutta: The recent quitting of Vineet Verma, CEO and secretary, and Rajan Mehrotra, general manager, racing, has reduced the Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) to a headless body. There are many eyeing the two specialised managerial posts but tough-talking senior steward Gen. (retired) Shankar Roychowdhury has other ideas.

The General, speaking to The Telegraph from his New Delhi residence, made a few things clear. “We are going to the placement agencies to look for a new secretary. It’s very difficult to seek a replacement for Vineet Verma but the club has to go on. We are working against time and, hopefully, may recruit someone by the end of May.”

The post of CEO, however, will be done away with.

The General also put to rest speculation about his future in the club. Asked to clarify rumours making the rounds that he was planning to quit, the General said: “Let me make it very clear that I’m not quitting.”

Allaying fears that the RCTC’s existence is at stake, the General said: “It is an 150-year-old institution and a part of the city’s social infrastructure. It cannot collapse.”

However, the club is already in a mess – financially and racing-wise. Horses are the basic necessity to run the show but the number of race-worthy stock has been dwindling over the years because of waning interest of the regular owners. Barring heavyweights like Deepak Khaitan and MAM Ramaswamy, no one seems to be much interested in investing in city racing. The soaring price of yearlings and high cost of maintenance are not encouraging potential owners either.

To make a decent day’s race card, the club also needs more variety of silk besides the popular Khaitan-MAM colours of ‘gold’ — with red and brown belts. Efforts made in the recent past to improve the situation by importing older horses from other centres have also not served the purpose.

The General, though, feels confident that RCTC will weather the storm. “We are planning a crash action,” announced the General, signing off on a positive note.

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