Veteran jockey defends turf club amidst legal battle with popular businessman

Jockey Jeff Jacobs celebrate following a win at the Cassada Gardens Race Track. (File photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Popular jockey and an executive member of the Antigua Turf Club (ATC), Jeff Jacobs, has taken local businessman, Carlton “Tyre Master” Lewis to task over claims he has the best interest of the sport at heart.

Jacobs, who spoke recently with Observer media, said Lewis’ claims that he holds a lease on the lands encompassing the Cassada Gardens Race Track and his efforts to stymie activities at the facility are all clear signs that he is only out to “frustrate” those who make a living from activities held at the track.

“Tyre Master had that place for how many years and it was dormant, doing nothing and it seems as if he was just there to frustrate horsemen as far as I see. What Neil Cochrane has accomplished with that place, under the circumstances, I never thought I would have seen it in my lifetime like gates at the Cassada Gardens Race Track. It has been very frustrating because I am a jockey, I love horse racing and my career was on a standstill because of this lease business and nobody could have moved forward because of what he [Lewis] was doing to horse racing. If he had money and investors then why weren’t they investing money?” he said.

In a recent interview, Lewis revealed that he is willing to take his legal fight for rights over the facility to the highest possible courts should he lose his appeal against the 2018 judgment in favour of the turf club.

Jacobs labelled claims by Lewis that current head of the turf club, Neil Cochrane, wants to use the land for personal gain as absurd, adding that all decisions made regarding the facility is done in accordance with the turf club’s constitution.

“I was in meetings with Tyre Master and I am part of the turf club’s executive and let me say this, Neil Cochrane is the president so he has to go forward but you have a body of men whom we call the executive and they make decisions so Neil does not make decision by himself. Whatever Neil is going forward with is the view of not just the executive but I would say, majority of the horsemen that race horses in Antigua and Barbuda,” he said.

Lewis, who claims to have a valid lease on the property located just east of the old APUA headquarters in Cassada Gardens, said he has invested thousands of dollars into the development of the land, adding that the turf club was not approved to utilize the facility.

The businessman, in May of 2012, filed for an injunction restraining the Antigua Turf Club from trespassing on the mentioned property.

There has not been any races at the track for over a year owing to a number of issues, including the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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