Neerumakt, literally "going of the neeru", is an animal racing sport popular in the Batarian Hegemony and worlds with large batarian populations. It is often a hotbed for gambling, and notable for its cross-caste range of appeal.
A neeru is a herd-dwelling reptile native to Khar'shan (although it has since been transplanted onto numerous worlds). It possesses four eyes, and is generally heavily muscled and covered in thick scales. Its leg structure is very similar to that of the grasshopper, allowing it to bound forward quickly without tiring. Ancient batarians used the neeru for transportation and food; although technology has made it obsolete for the former, neeru are still bred for their meat. For obvious reasons, racing neeru are raised using different conditions, diets, and regimens from livestock neeru.
While not overly aggressive by nature, the neeru can be dangerous if provoked, and will use its tusks as a goring weapon.
Races are conducted on synth-turf tracks of roughly one kilometer in length by four to eight neeru at a time, using synthetic jockies. Standard races are a rush towards the finish line on a straight, level track, while endurance races feature a looped track around which competitors must run a specific number of laps (usually four, for obvious reasons). Often, a racing neeru is bred specifically for acceleration or stamina so that it can participate in one type of race.
Competitors who complete the race in first through fourth place are considered winners (in descending order) for betting purposes. Violence against opponents, use of cybernetic or genetic augmentations for a neeru, and sabotage are all forbidden on penalty of disqualification and possible expulsion from the league.
The cross-caste involvement of neerumakt makes it unique among batarian sports. Most castes are allowed to participate, either by sponsoring a neeru or (more commonly) betting on the outcomes of races. A nobleman or merchant who sponsors a winning neeru can expect to receive a monetary prize, as well as a percentage of the payoffs on his neeru that are made by the house. Lower castes generally do not have the financial wherewithal to act as sponsors, but are welcome to bet on winners, which can result in impressive payouts. Slaves are forbidden from gambling at the races, and are frequently used as couriers by nobles who wish to place bets at the bookmaker.
Betting on neerumakt is an integral and well-loved part of the sport, and usually stimulates the local economy considerably as the winners spend their earnings. Famous races, such as the yearly Atrox Cup, will often draw millions of spectators to watch in person and many more via holovision.
Synthetic jockies were not originally used in neerumakt; until the Khar'shan Sporting Commission instituted their jockey reforms, child slaves were the most common choice for riding a neeru. This proved to be extremely dangerous for the jockies, who were often malnourished to reduce their weight and ran the risk of falling off the neeru and being injured or killed. In 2027, Grand Executor Alrik Il-Khan of Camala issued a statement condemning the risk to the slaves used as jockies and citing a duty of the higher castes to protect the less powerful. His considerable influence led to the KSC banning the use of slaves for neerumakt, which necessitated the development of remote-controlled synthetic jockies.
As it turned out, the synthetics proved to be more popular than the children they'd replaced: they didn't need to be fed, and they weighed less. Outer tracks were established around most of the existing venues, and to this day it is customary to see a fleet of skycars racing alongside the robot-driven neeru, with the noblemen in the passenger's seats frantically pressing the 'whip' button and swearing in Khar'shan Standard.