By Neto Baptiste
Work aimed at upgrading and improving the Cassada Garden’s Race Track could commence by the end of this month and, with all going according to plan, completed within two months.
This is according to President of the Antigua Turf Club (ATC), Neil Cochrane, who revealed that once fully completed, the track will take on a slightly new look.
“While we say it’s a five-furlong track as it stands now, I wouldn’t say it’s a pure five-furlong track but when we are finished we will have a pure five-furlong track with two straights. It’s more like an egg shaped track right now where there is one straight and then everything else just goes around so we will have two straights and two proper turns just like how an international track is structured,” he said.
The longstanding chief of the horse fraternity said they recently received a key element need for the project to move forward.
“Well, right now we have received 600 tons of sand from Barbuda but that’s still 400 tons off of what we paid for and we hope we can receive that by the end of this month. Our racetrack designers and engineers, the minimum they can work with is 2,000 tons so we also are raising funds for the second 1,000 tons and we want to actually start doing work by the end of this month. We have met with the engineers to go over the entire process and they have submitted their steps and phases as well as their bills for the work to start,” he said.
The turf club, Cochrane further revealed, is also in dialogue with government regarding additional assistance pivotal to the overall development of the facility.
“We have had meetings with the minister of sports [Daryll Matthew] and also spoke to the minister of agriculture [Samantha Marshall] because we require some assistance from them and not just from a funding perspective, but also we need some topsoil, about 500 tons, to add to the sand, so we have approached them for that. We are also seriously trying to get some funding to help us, especially in trying to secure the other sand we need from Barbuda,” he said.
The turf club and businessman Carlton “Tyre Master” Lewis have been locked in a legal battle regarding who has the right to utlilise the facility for some time now. Lewis, who claims to have a lease on the property, accuses the turf club of illegally occupying and utilising the lands for horse racing, while the sporting body argues that a Cabinet decision would have given them permission many years ago.