Cochrane: No definite date for the return of horse racing

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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua Turf Club (ATC) had put an indefinite hold on the staging of races at the Cassada Gardens Race Track.

This is according to head of the body, Neil Cochrane, who said intermittent showers have made it difficult for horse owners and trainers to get their animals in race condition, forcing the Turf Club to abandon plans of hosting a December event.

“We had gotten the place nicely cleaned up and so and horses started to exercise as I said. We had set a date for December 9th but since then [clean up] we’ve had plenty of rain which has caused them to miss exercise for a week and so on which has just delayed the entire process. We are working but we haven’t set a date as yet. When we get in as much work as possible and when we feel like two weeks before the date we will announce a date for the return of racing as opposed to just setting a date and then the rain comes and delays us,” he said. 

The situation, Cochrane said, has been a frustrating one but adds that preparations must be put in place in an effort to avoid certain setbacks.

“We need to get the drainage properly fixed so that we can have the track in a better condition when the rain is over so that you don’t have to take a week just to exercise. Everybody is frustrated but we do it for love and we do it for bragging rights and at the end of the day, if you can’t enjoy the investment via bragging rights then it becomes extremely frustrating. Some people lose their interest and to be honest, if there is no racing the horses don’t get as much care as if there is racing because even the grooms and the attendants just gets lackadaisical so it has been extremely frustrating right through,” the ATC boss said.

As for the planned construction of a modern and state of the art facility at Cassada Gardens, Cochrane said that, too, has proven more of a challenge than anticipated but from a financial standpoint.

“We are trying to get concept plans [drawings] finalised so that we could make a presentation for the financing; that is what we are trying to work on but even that, too, with the level of funding required to engage architects — all of that [has been a challenge]. We have the guys out of California who have already done a significant amount of work … on the race track, but the public amenities and facilities is where we are now focused and getting the architects to work with the guys out of California to come with the final layout,” he said.

The Cassada Gardens Race Track last hosted a competitive meet on June 30th this year when the final stage of Antigua Triple Crown Series, the Governor General’s Cup was staged.

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