Cochrane: Horse racing could be ready for July return

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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua Turf Club (ATC), within the next two months, will be positioned to host its first meet in two years.

This is according to president of the organisation, Neil Cochrane, who said that various material and equipment needed to upgrade and maintain the Cassada Gardens Race Track is now on island.

“We will be ready to go from the end of July at the latest. Our container with the new rails arrived already and that’s at the race track.

“We have the harrow or the race track conditioner already at the race track and we’re just finalising bringing the sand over from Barbuda so everything is basically in place for us to start the construction by, latest, the second week in June. We estimate it is going to be about a month for that to be completed,” he said. 

The turf club’s programme has been stalled for quite some time due to issues with the track. Problems were multiplied by the advent of the Covid-19 virus.

Cochrane, who said he will not seek re-election when constitutionally due elections are held this year, revealed that the body had long submitted its protocol document to the relevant authorities.

“We would have been one of the entities that would have already submitted our proposal in relation to the establishment of the operating protocols and so on and we did that quite some time ago and so the minister would have had our document that speaks to how we would like to proceed,” he said. 

The turf club missed a recent meeting held between Minister of Sports Daryll Matthew and association heads during which the possible reopening of competition was discussed.

Cochrane said this was due to a simple misunderstanding.

“When there was the discussion on the sports awards and what they were trying to do, we were not notified and so I contacted the ministry and had a discussion with who was responsible for that and she said she didn’t have the updated email address and phone number for me and I supplied them with that information so I am not sure if it was not uploaded into the system thereafter or what, so I was not aware of the meeting,” he said.

 The turf club has not held races since June 2019 when it had the final leg of the Antigua Triple Crown Series, the Governor General’s Cup.

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