By Neto Baptiste
Incomplete renovations at the Cassada Gardens Race Track forced the Antigua Turf Club (ATC) to postpone its planned return to racing after over two years of inactivity.
President Neil Cochrane said the body made the decision to postpone the meet which was slated for February 13 after workmen were unable to complete critical renovations on the rails and track surface in time.
“The anticipation of the work to be completed, especially where the rails are concerned, was a little bit more and the guys who were working on the rails were somewhat delayed in getting it completed. However, in the process of dealing with that, we also had invited the consultant who was working with us on the racetrack and the whole redesign and everything and the rebuilding of the track surface [to] see how he could assist us in getting the track to the best possible space of readiness,” he said.
“We were on our way getting our work done but the rains came and it actually [caused] a delay in the works that the gentlemen were doing,” he added.
The setback, Cochrane said, is not necessarily all doom and gloom as the two-week delay will afford more trainers and owners to get their horses ready for the new date of 27 February.
“That also would have given us an opportunity for more horses to be ready as some more horses have started to train and that extra two weeks would give them the opportunity to be better prepared. We are looking at the 27th of February so everything is shaping up for that; we should even have more horses than we anticipated for the 13th and the guys would be able to complete the work required,” he said.
The horse racing boss revealed that a significant amount of funds has been spent thus far in the attempt to bring the facility up to par.
“I would say about $30,000 so far in terms of bringing the gentleman here, buying new material in terms of wood and so on, in terms of doing some repairs on our tractors to make sure the hydraulics were going, so there are quite a few things we have spent some funds on,” Cochrane said.
There has been no racing in Antigua since June 2019, owing to issues at the country’s lone horse racing facility, which were further compounded by the Covid-19 virus. Several attempts to bring the sport back from a competitive standpoint have however, not materialised.