By Neto Baptiste
The Antigua Turf Club (ATC) is hoping that they could tap into the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) as a means of raising the necessary funding required to drive the sport and the planned redevelopment of the Cassada Gardens Race Track.
This is according to President, Neil Cochrane, who said that given the financial constraints of government and the scarcity of private investment into the sport, the body hopes to convince government that allowing them to utilise the CIP venture as a means of raising funds could be beneficial to both parties.
“We know that the government is limited on funds, so when we look at it we don’t really see government as an option from giving direct funding, but from perhaps offering certain incentives to possible investors,” he said.
“The plans are still there and in fact, we have re-worked some aspects of it and…we are looking at making a presentation to government with regards to making the horse racing project a CIP project and so therefore we would have the opportunity to use the CIP vehicle as a means of getting the necessary funding and investment to really get the facility as it should be,” he added.
Last year, the turf club revealed plans, including a draft layout of the proposed new facility, stating that overseas investors had shown an interest in the Cassada Gardens facility.
Cochrane said those plans are still on the books as it could bring significant financial benefits and international exposure to the country.
“I have met the primary and principal investor and his CEO and we’ve had good discussions. They were supposed to have come to Antigua for further discussions but it didn’t materialise and the intent is to create a horse racing network throughout the Caribbean where, when internationally it is cold and you can ship horses down to these parts, and you don’t necessarily have to ship your greatest horses but a set of horses you’d want to develop so you give them that opportunity in a less competitive environment,” the turf boss said.
Meanwhile, businessman Carlton “Tyre Master” Lewis who has had a number of legal challenges against the Antigua Turf Club over whom he holds a valid lease to lands encompassing the track, warned that no investment can take place at the facility until all legal challenges have ended.
“I want to say to Neil Cochrane that cockroach have no orders in fowl house and what Neil Cochrane [going on] about here this morning [Thursday] is a load of rubbish because he can’t expect to be getting help for a turf club where he is talking about business venture and all of that load of rubbish, but how can he have a business venture when this thing is in the court,” he said.
Judgment was handed down in favour of the turf club last year in the High Court, and Lewis was ordered to pay compensation to the body. The businessman has since appealed the ruling.