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By Neto Baptiste

Work to upgrade both the surface and some aspects of the physical infrastructure at the Cassada Gardens Race Track could start within the fourth quarter of 2021.

This is according to horse owner, Dr Dwayne Thwaites, who has been spearheading rehabilitation efforts at the facility alongside turf club president, Neil Cochrane.

In an exclusive interview with Observer media, Thwaites revealed that a harrow (track conditioner) which is an important piece of equipment needed to facilitate work at the track, has landed in Antigua.

“We are trying now to approach horse racing in a different way in terms of preservation of the animal’s foot with a good cushioned surface so the harrow is here to help us with the tilling of the topsoil and making it soft so that the horses could run on some cushion and that’s very important for longevity of the horses,” he said.

“We are just waiting to pay the freight because there was some confusion with the freight itself and Tropical Shipping is trying to assist us. They have also been nice enough to sponsor us some of the freight and have given us a discount on the freight as a form of sponsorship and we are very great full to Frank Schwartz and his team at Tropical Shipping,” he added.

A track conditioner or harrow keeps the track cushion conditioned to a precisely-controlled depth.

Thwaites added that a number of rails that have already been ordered should arrive in Antigua by the end of January once the necessary funding can be sourced for shipping.

“What we are looking at again is the freight coming out of China and that is always our biggest cost but we have already paid completely for the rails and they should be on their way by next week and giving them three to four weeks to get here I believe that by the end of January we should have those PVC rails and the games and different shoots for the animals to come out onto the track are all put together by the company in China. So far, we have had only US $1,000 towards the freight and we are looking another maybe US $3,000 or $4,000 to bring the rails into Antigua,” he said.

As for when racing could return at the track? Thwaites stopped short of pointing to a specific date, stating only that action could be possible before work commences.

“I think that we can get some racing going with the conditions that we have which have been the status quo for some time now and so by the time the rails get here by the end of January we will then be looking at another month’s break before we start to have proper running there. What we have at the track right now, we are thinking we may be able to put one race in before we start the new development at the track,” he said.

There has been no racing at the Cassada Gardens Race Track in over a year mainly due to the unfavourable conditions at the facility.