Veteran horse racing figures recount sport’s highs and lows

Sir Dr. Cuthwin Lake.
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By Neto Baptiste

Sir Dr. Cuthwin Lake and William “Willy D” Martin, two stalwarts of horse racing in Antigua, have recounted their involvement in the sport which started as far back as the 60’s.

Sir Cuthwin, while speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, remembers when races were held outside of the now popular Cassada Gardens Race Track.

“At that time, racing was in a state of flux because so many things had happened, and roughly at that time, they were starting up again and they did one or two races up at Comfort Hall because, historically you may recall, they used to have races at Cassada Grounds [opposite present day track], but when the navy or when the Americans came, they stopped some of that but it restarted and would have continued except for a little problem between Mr. Bird and the plantocracy, and with the great labour strike  they had at that time, really put an end to the races there at the Cassada Gardens [Grounds],” he said. 

The second leg of the Antigua Turf Club’s Triple Crown Series, is named in Sir Cuthwin’s honour.

Meanwhile Martin, who has also been involved in the sport for many years, serving as treasurer on previous executives, said horse racing has to adapt to different venues to survive. The local businessman also remembered his days as a jockey.

“Before Cassada Gardens, we use to race where they have the car park right now at the East Bus Station and we used to race up to the east from the bus station go right up to where the government complex is and then from there, we used to race in a place called Belmont. They used to have a stretch in Belmont where we used to race. When we went to the Cassada Gardens now the white people were giving us some hassle saying that I can’t just go and ride horse like that, you have to go with weight and your [my] weight was too heavy,” he said.

Horse racing, like all sporting activities worldwide, has been forced to suspend all events due to the spread of the deadly coronavirus. It is unclear as to when races will resume at the Cassada Gardens Race Track.

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