The audience at the Pune racecourse on Sunday witnessed thrilling races and vivid cultural displays at the Southern Command Gold Trophy, which has been the highlight of the racing season since its inception in 1948. The Southern Command is the oldest field Army in India, having come into existence more than a century ago, and was instrumental in the integration of the princely States post-Independence. It has made its mark in modern warfare, having fought the 1965 and 1971 wars, and has been at the forefront of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations across Southern India.Cultural diversity Personnel from the Army also showcased their cultural diversity and traditions through band displays, a Kalaripayattu performance and a tent pegging demonstration.Six military bands — Bombay Engineers Group & Centre Band, Kirkee; Maratha Light Infantry Centre Band, Belgaum; Mechanized Infantry Regimental Centre Band, Ahmednagar; Artillery Centre Band, Nashik; 15 Punjab Band, Mumbai; and 4/5 Gorkha Rifles Band, Aundh; marched along to fifes and drums. There was also a Kalaripayattu performance by a team from the Madras regimental centre in Wellington, consisting of 19 soldiers from Kerala and Tamil Nadu who have won several accolades at the international level. A martial art technique from Kerala, Kalaripattayu has been practised by warriors since the third century BC, as they attempted to master weapons such as the spear, sword, shield, and bow and arrow. Meanwhile, the tent pegging demonstration was conducted by horses and cadets from the National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla. In this practice, the rider manoeuvres his horse to gallop close to the ground target, with the help of a lance, and hit it. A practice used to disturb enemy camps, tent pegging is one of only 10 equestrian disciplines officially recognised by the International Equestrian Federation.This occasion was graced by General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Command, Lt. Gen S.K.Saini, (AVSM, YSM, VSM), who presented the Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw Memorial Trophy and the Southern Command Gold Trophy to the winning connections.