Cochrane: Turf Club awaits government’s response on CIP proposal

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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua Turf Club (ATC), the body responsible for the sport of horse racing here in Antigua, said it is awaiting a reply from the country’s sports minister Daryll Matthew and, by extension, the government, on its proposal to piggyback on the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) in hopes of attracting investors for the construction of an international racing facility.

President of the national sporting body, Neil Cochrane, said a pitch had been sent to the ministry some months ago but that the body is still awaiting an official reply from the government.

“What I did was send the framework of the proposal to the Minister of Sports for him to review, but he has not come back. I think the framework was pretty strong, it was just missing a few numbers in relation to the expenses but to put even those numbers, they are going to require the completed conceptual designs and so on,” he said.

“In terms of the approach, we have given them the approach, we’ve shown them how much funding we need to raise, how we will raise the funding, how the CIP process would support us raising the funding, how we propose to split the funding derived from the CIP business model,” he added. 

Earlier this year, Cochrane said the body would be seeking the government’s approval regarding investment for the proposed project via the CIP. The endgame, Cochrane said, would be the construction of an international racing and betting facility here.

The Turf Club, he said, is currently in the process of getting their ducks in a row, which he added will take some time. 

“We are crunching the numbers so that we can make the presentation for the facility to be given rights as a CIP project and that will open one avenue for investment and for funding. You have your traditional as well where, again, anything that we do has to be driven by finalising the numbers, and the numbers are finalised as a result of the facility,” Cochrane said.

“What we are working on now is the racing aspect of it, the re-design, the re-laying of the track, the way the track will shape, the proper drainage, a proper running surface, new barns. All of that aspect of it have been already priced out and the engineering aspect of it has already been done,” the turf boss added.

Cochrane also revealed that the project will require some serious funding.

“I’ve spoken to several architects and I can tell you now, that to get the conceptual design done 3D to present to the nation is going to cost us at least $50,000. So it’s not cheap and we are trying to drive it as much as we possibly can, but in the interim, we are all stressed about not being able to race,” he said.

There has not been any competitive racing at the Cassada Gardens Race Track for the past six months due to long periods of rainfall. The last meet happened in June when the turf club hosted the final race of its Triple Crown Series, the Governor General’s Cup.

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