Established more than 150 years ago during the country’s colonial era, horse racing is a sporting event that is intrinsically linked with the heritage of the island’s hill station. Dating back to the wonder years of the 1860’s when European holidaymakers visited the isle they called Ceylon for racing season, the Sri Lankan Turf Club has today become the epicenter for the sport in the island nation. It manages an engaging calendar of racing events with the patronage of local and foreign visitors. Tucked away within a landscape that is often compared to the Scottish highlands, the Turf Club’s home situated in breathtaking Nuwara Eliya is the setting of the island’s most coveted horse racing events. Where the cities cool climate and the mist filled track creates an enchanted setting for one of the world’s oldest sporting activities. Joining forces with the Ministry of Sports as of 2011, racing season in Sri Lanka’s Little England kicks off during the holidays in April when racing enthusiasts from across the country and the world flock to the race course 5km from Spring Acres to witness history in the making.
2012’s exciting line-up in April included four red letter events namely the Governor’s Cup, the Sunquick Cup, the First Meet and the Final Meet while previous highlights included the Labookelle Cup, Sporting Times Trophy, the Upali Wijewardene Kandos Cup, the Sumathi Cup and the Nescafe Cup. February’s line-up includes the Independence Race Meet while events are also hosted during the months of June, August, September and December. Organized with all the pomp and pageantry of an English style racing melee, the horse races at Nuwara Eliya also include elaborate luncheons, teas and pageants where the Best Dressed Gent, Best Dressed Lady and Most Photogenic Personality are selected from among the chic crowd of attendees. Fashion shows by local designers are also a popular feature at the races which are covered extensively by local media as a high society event with who’s who in Colombo high society in attendance.
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