Horse Racing Fraternity Frustrated, Hoping For March Return

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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua Turf Club (ATC) is hopeful that competitive horse racing could return to the Cassada Gardens Race Track by early March.

President of the organisation, Neil Cochrane, said fans and horse owners alike have become frustrated over the lengthy delay in the sport’s return due to prolonged unstable weather across the region, but plans are in place to ensure a speedy return once the weather holds.

“The executive is constantly communicating because we all want racing. We all want to get it done, get it on, we all want to enjoy ourselves and watch our horses exercise as opposed to just watching them eat, so ultimately yes, we have looked at a sort of fast track strategy in terms of getting a race on,” he said.

“Whereas it would take six weeks [to get the horses ready] we are looking at a strategy which could bring the races on within about four weeks and most, in dialogue with the horse owners, most of them are in agreement to do that fast track. What would actually happen is that whereas you would have gone into a race having done one, two, three types of exercises to prepare your horse going into a race, that face work would become the race,” he added.

The last meet at the Cassada Gardens Race Track was held in June 2019 when the turf club held the final leg of the Antigua Triple Crown Series, the Governor General’s Cup.

Cochrane said a significant amount of work is however needed on the track before it is safe for both horses and jockeys.

“We were still hoping that maybe over the weekend the weather would have worked with us so that we would have been able to put on a re-claimer. A re-claimer is going to do a few things which would include aviating the surface because it kinds of churn up the soil so we could get some air into that and it also will help with the drainage because now that there is grass on the track the drainage gets worst so once we can churn it up, get that grass out and turned over then it is going to help a little bit with the drainage. It also softens the surface for the horses,” he said. The Antigua Turf Club is slated to host its electoral congress in March this year.

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