When the members of the Guyana Horse Racing Authority (GHRA) meet next January the agenda would be “Allocations of Race Dates” as usual, because the GHRA, as was stated earlier, is like a race dates authority. For decades it has been like that. For the longest while the GHRA has done nothing of significance to improve horseracing in this country. Instead its members, who are mostly track owners and people who are affiliated to the said tracks, try desperately to bring (the sport) horseracing down.
Approximately 30-35 race dates are requested by the respective tracks each year but only 10-12 horserace meets are actually held. Track owners often cite weather conditions or clash with other sporting events as reasons for cancellations. They also state on their provisional programmes that the club has the right to cancel/reframe any of the races, which again put horse owners at a disadvantage. Imagine horse owners will have their horses in training for over six weeks or so, enter their horses for an event, transport their horses to the track on the day of racing, only to find out that the particular race they had entered their horses for has been cancelled or the prize money for that event has been slashed by 60%. To make matters worse, sometimes horse owners don’t even get paid for prizes won at some of these tracks.
Another point is the facilities at most of the racing venues in Guyana are of really poor standard. The stands are not big enough or strong enough to accommodate spectators. Most of these spectators find themselves on or around the tracks since the clubs have little or no mechanisms to control the crowd. The lives of jockeys, horses and spectators are thus at risk. The track conditions are also poor and can be easily affected by minimum rainfall. Sometimes the headline in the newspapers reads “Over 70 horses entered for Christmas Meet” but what these track owners fail to tell the media is that they only have stalls to accommodate 35 horses. Most of these clubs have been in existence for over 35 years yet they cannot address these pertinent issues that have been around from inception. Now, they are asking the Government of Guyana to pass legislation so these substandard clubs can continue to exist. Even though the spirit of competitiveness is what horseracing is all about, the turf clubs resents that because it forces them to improve the standards of horseracing and the facilities at their clubs.
Recently at a GHRA meeting held at Rising Sun West Coast Berbice, President Kennard, who is also the head of the Kennard Memorial Turf Club (KMTC), announced that his club will be holding a two day horse racing meet on 26th and 27th of December 2014, which horse owners welcomed. Why? Because we are advocating more race dates. At the said meeting, Mr. Kennard vehemently opposed a planned Jumbo Jet December 29th 2013 mega horse racing event. His reason being, it is too close to his planned race meet which is schedule to be held on the December 26, 2013.
Please Mr. Kennard, if you don’t have a problem running off race meets on two consecutive days, why do you have a problem with Jumbo Jet meet which is three days after your event? Stop the double standards and entertain some competition, it’s good for the sport.
Now if we seriously want to take horseracing forward let’s move all the horseracing activities to the Port Mourant Turf club for the next 5-8 years. Use help from corporate entities and proceeds from race events to develop the infrastructure. GHRA can be housed at this venue. GHRA staff can be paid from rental of the facility for events such as live concerts pageants, grass track races and even horseracing events.
Revise the proposed legislation, get the stud book going, and let’s get the ball rolling. Once GHRA is fully staffed and all stakeholders are sensitized about the rules, regulations and penalties and things start to run smoothly, then, clubs that meet all the standards and requirements can become affiliated to the GHRA.
For now, stop the selfishness, stop the confusion and together let’s put horseracing back to where it belongs – ON TOP.
Owner, Trainer, Promoter
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