The benevolent Ruler of Mysore State late H.H. Sri Chamaraja Wadiyar started the sport
of horse racing in 1891 in the then capital City of Mysore. The Race Course was near the present Jayachamarajendra
College of Engineering, and was known as Kebbe Katte Bungalow. Races used to be
held during the Birthday celeberations of the Ruler with H.H. The Maharaja
of Mysore and Sir Oliver St. John as the Patrons.The Stewards appointed to conduct Races for 4 days during the birthday celebrations in 1891 were:
Major P.H. Benson, Sri A.H. Macintire,
Sri A. Basappaji Urs,
Sri T.J. Mcggann, Sri Desraj Urs,
Sri S.W. Smith, Sri.K.
Dorasami Iyer, Sri W.Vinicombe Davi - was the Hon.
Secretary. Sri J.P. Grant,
Sri R.G. Jones,
History books tell us that H.H. Sri Chamaraja Wadiyar loved horse riding and often bought horses to add to his stables. He was a fine rider and regularly rode in the old Hinkal Race Course within the Vijaya Sripura Grounds for an hour every morning, after a light breakfast. H H would then bathe and do pooja with ‘Parayana of Ramayana’ - at least one saga daily, before setting out for inspection.
The very young Princes appreciated and often remembered the sportive ways of their uncle, Sir M. Kantharaj Urs. Due to his interest and knowledge in this field, Sir M. Kantharaj Urs was encouraged to conduct races at The Gymkhana between 1897 and 1901. Royal Highnesses of Mysore State patronised The Gymkhana which was also referred to as The Ursu Gymkhana. It is now called the Ursu Club.
Racing continued around the Kebbe Katte Bungalow till 1920 when a new Race Course was built by late H.H. Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, who was also a great sportsman and a lover of race horses. H.H. Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar too owned race horses jointly with his brother H.H.Sri Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar. Sri Krishna Rao, Sri Poottannah and some others trained horses for the Royal family.
The Race Course in use now was built during H.H. Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja’s reign. It is spread across 152 acres. The Race Course encompasses a magnificent stand, paddock complex, office building, first and second enclosures, a polo ground in the centre and an oval shaped race track. This Course has unique drainage features and was designed by an Australian Engineer.
Regular Horse Racing, Gymkhana Racing and Polo matches took place in this Race Course. The Races used to be for 6 days. In those days, all Race Clubs in Southern India were affiliated to the Royal Calcutta Turf Club, which in turn was affiliated to the Jockey Club of England.
Major Nabhi Khan, Sri A.N. Chennaraj Urs and Sri M.V. Anantharamaiah were appointed as Secretaries for Regular Races and were responsible for smooth running of those Races.
Major Rajkumar, Sri C. Desraj Urs, Sri. B.S. Raghavendre, Dr. J.F. Robinson, Lt. Col.J.B. Stubbs, Lt. Col.M.D. Vigors were the Management Committee members at The Gymkhana with Sri. Siddiq-Ul-Mulk Sadeq Z. Shah as its Hon. Secretary. This committee took charge of the Races at The Gymkhana.
The main attraction during the 6 days racing was The Maharaja's Gold Cup Sweep Race. The total stake money paid for those 6 days racing was about Rs. 90,000/- and there used to be two enclosures.
Late H.H. Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was an ardent Golf player. The present golf course in Mysore - JWGC was this Maharaja’s creation. H H used to play Golf whenever he had the time. H.H. Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was also a good horse rider and encouraged racing as a sport to improve the quality of riding. In those days in Mysore State, racing was conducted by the Department of Palace and the Secretary and Stewards were appointed by the then Rulers of Mysore.
In 1951, Bangalore Race Club formed a 25-member Mysore Race Club with Sri H.L. Raje Urs as its Secretary. At that time, Bangalore Race Club used to run their Races in Mysore. The association and contribution of late F.B. Sharma, the walking encyclopaedia of racing, as Secretary of Mysore Race Club in its infancy, was fondly remembered on Centenary of Horse Racing in Mysore
On 15th April 1968, Mysore Race Club was elevated to a Limited Company. Sri J.B.Mallaradhya, Sri S.M. Shivaji Rao, Sri S.V. Subramaniam Dharmakarya Praveena, Sowcar T. Thimmappa, Sri M.K. Srinivas, Sri T. Narayanaswamy, and Sri K. Thammanna Gowda were appointed signatories for the Memorandum and Articles of Association.
The first Chairman of Mysore Race Club Limited was Sri S.V. Subramaniam who tried to revive both Horse Racing and Gymkhana Racing after registration of the Club. Unfortunately, finances and membership of the Club was very low at that time. In 1969, a few foresighted members enrolled Mysore city’s dynamic Automobile King of Mysore - Sri Farrokh Irani, as a member and very soon he was unanimously elected as Chairman of the Mysore Race Club Limited (MRC).
Under Sri Farrokh Irani’s Chairmanship, Sri J.K. Van Ingen, Sri W.T. Craig Jones, Mrs. Sheila Irani, Sowcar T.Thimmappa, Sardar K.B. Ramachandraraj Urs, Sri C.Srikantan, Sri Al. Rm. Ramanathan, Mrs. Naseema Sattar Sait, Sri. R.S. Irani, Sri. C. Seshachalam, Sri. Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, Sri. Athmanyadev, Sri M.R. Lakshmikantharaj Urs, Sri. M. Govindiappa, Sri. C.S. Mohanram, Sowcar T. Premanath and many others came forward with financial help for their Club. This move drastically improved the economic position of the Club and enabled MRC to offer more attractive amounts as stakes, better stabling facilities and other subsidies to owners and professionals in horse racing. MRC started racing under Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) Rules of Racing.
In the early years, Bangalore Turf Club used to send their officials to conduct races for Mysore Race Club. MRC annually has races for 20 days during the three-month period, August to October. In 1974, MRC introduced Classic Races like Mysore 1000 Guineas (Grade II), Mysore 2000 Guineas (Grade II) and Mysore Derby (Grade I) which continue to have good competitive fields. Respectable support and nurturing of good relationship with Bangalore Turf Club and its racing officials, has helped MRC and Mysore Races steadily grow from strength to strength.
The present Race Course premises was leased to MRC by the Government of Karnataka in 1977.
Mysore Race Club conducts Intervenue Betting on almost all Centres of Racing in India - particularly Bangalore, Bombay, Pune, Ooty, Madras, Hyderabad and Calcutta.
MRC is the proud owner of the most modern Bookmakers’ Ring built in 1979 by our member Sri C.N.N. Murthy. In 1982, MRC built the Club House offering accommodation and facilities for recreation to its Club members. Apart from racing MRC has residential accommodation & Club House facilities arrangement with other Turf Clubs in the country.
In 1983, MRC formed the Mysore Race Club Charitable Trust with a Trust Deed. The original Trustees were: Sri F.K. Irani, Sri Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, Sri Y.R. Puttanaiah, Sri Braham Dutt, Sardar K.B. Ramachandraraj Urs, Prof. V. Puttamadappa and Gp. Capt. A.V. Samsi.
Initially MRC contribution to the Charitable Trust was Rs. 1/50 from every Intervenue Betting Admission Ticket purchased by the public.
As commemoration of the centenary celebrations of MRC (1891 to 1991), The Charitable Trust acquired one acre of land at Siddartha Layout in Mysore and built a 100-bedded specialised hi-tech Eye hospital. (http://www.mrceyehospital.com) The hospital has been doing yeoman service in ophthalmology to society since 1994.
In 2018, the Trustees of MRC Charitable Trust under the Chairmanship of Sri G. Venkatesh are Sri Abhiram G Sankar, IAS, Sri M.L.Kantharaj Urs, Dr. N Nithyanand Rao, Sri H.Kusumakar Shetty,Dr. D Satyanarayana ,Mr. M.S.Harish Shenoy.
MRC built a Golf Hut and Golf Course for exclusive use of the Members of Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Club and MRC in Mysore City. Mysore Race Club and Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Club together conduct the 'H.H. Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Memorial Golf Tournament' every year.
Mysore Race Club was the first Race Club in India to engage a Lady Veterinary Officer – Dr. (Miss) Vasanthi Ishwaraiah - as an official, in the year 1981. MRC is also unique in allowing a lady trainer Miss. Diana Craig Jones - the first lady trainer, as a Professional in Racing. MRC also provides CCTV facilities to the public and to its members.
Over the decades, there has been regular upgradation of facilities at MRC grounds and Mysore Race Club is a preferred destination for racing buffs, owners and trainers of horses too.
This in short, is one hundred years and more of the Royal Sport - Horse Racing. Nothing is certain in racing till the white cone is HOISTED. Patience is the key word and hope you all will continue to enjoy this sport in the true spirit and relax.
Dr.M.R.Jagannath InCharge Secretary, Mysore Race Club Ltd, Post Box No 11,
Race Course Road, Mysore-570010