By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua Turf Club (ATC), Neil Cochrane, said he still has love and passion for the sport and wants to continue at its helm despite what has been a tumultuous nine-month stretch of no races at the country’s lone facility, the Cassada Garden’s Race Track.
“I still have the drive, so that is not an issue at all, but at the end of the day, I am happy, I am contented with where I am or what I have done for the sport, and I am contented with where we have come. Horse racing was run by the biggest [most popular] people in town, the people who had the names, the people who were the movers and shakers in this country but if you look at what was there between 1965 when the race track started at Cassada Gardens and you look at them then and now,” he said.
Cochrane, who has been president of the body for 11 straight years starting 2009, said his decisions are guided by those whose opinions he values most.
“I have a group of people who I work with, people who I think have genuine interest in horse racing and its development. I brought Dr. Dwayne Thwaites [Baba] into horse racing, and there are a lot of people I have tried to get into horse racing, and when I make a decision, it’s a decision that comes after proper consultation with them, so I don’t just jump up and say, I have to talk to my people,” he said.
Elections are constitutionally due at the end of March but predictions are that the meeting will be postponed due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.
Cochrane believes the long layoff in races which were due to varying reasons, will have an impact on his popularity for the vote.
“Just like in every entity, there are some persons who are anti and some people who are pro so it would have caused those people who are anti to think that they have a greater fire to say nothing is happening, but there is a reality as to why nothing is going on and nothing went on,” the turf boss said. The turf club last stage races at the track in June last year with the staging of the Governor General’s Cup, which is the final stage of the Antigua Triple Crown Series.