Off track issues dominated racing year


Wednesday, January 02, 2013

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THE racing year that was 2012 can only be described as punishing for all the major stakeholders in the so-called sports of kings.

The main issue of concern is the viability of the promoting body Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) which publicly declared that it was broke, thereby placing the industry — to use a common cliché these days — further on the fiscal cliff of financial doom.

At present, the payment of purses already won is eight weeks behind, creating untold hardships for especially owners, trainers and grooms. Truth be told, it is a miracle that we still have racing on Saturdays and Wednesdays. The chief executive officer of the company has resigned and will not be in office come January 1. And if that was not enough, Mother Luck abandoned the entity when it was robbed in mid-year by criminals who stole over $7 million.

Government seems to have abandoned racing as evidenced by the slow progress and lack of attention in driving forward the process of divestment. While a bailout of the industry is certainly not on the cards, this major employer of labour must be treated better, having contributed significantly to the consolidated fund in the past.

While the instrument of divestment seems to be the only viable option to save racing, it is a concept not embraced by certain sections of the industry. This unworthy opposition is sure to at least temporarily restrict any attempt to divest racing; that is why the Government has to use its position of ownership to ensure what is now a debt-ridden company comes off the book of the public purse.

On the track, we witnessed some memorable performances. The three-year-old races were dominated by trainer Spencer Chung's Typewriter, who under adverse conditions, dominated the Derby and the St Leger. Chung will easily win the award for most improved trainer as apart from Typewriter, his handling of probably the best horse in the land, St Cecelia, was most commendable.

St Cecelia, unbeaten in six races during 2012, crowned her Horse-of-the-Year performances with a truly outstanding run in the seven-furlong Gold Cup event where she dispatched her main rival for the crown, Mark My Word, with aplomb.

Mark My Word continued to consolidate his status as one of the best horses to grace racing by repeating in the Superstakes and the Harry Jackson.

The juveniles left enough to excite the racing palate for the 2013 classic races. There was no clear leader among the locals, with Uncle Taf, Hovercraft, Royal Vibes, Perfect Neighbour, Doc Holiday, Piscean Rocket, among others, all sharing the major two-year-old events. Among the foreigners, City Flight is the established leader and probably the best juvenile to race this year. It will be exciting following these horses as they continue to fulfil their racing fate.

Dane Nelson achieved his major goal of becoming champion jockey. He was challenged, for the most, part by outgoing champion Dick Cardenas, but briskly moved away in the last racing quarter to take the title with ease, riding over 120 winners.

In September, racing welcomed 19 new apprentices who have lit up the park time after time with their riding skills and their willingness to learn and achieve.

The trainers' race was a procession, as Wayne DaCosta simply continued on his merry way to record his t12th championship. The 'Kid' has no rivals for now.

In the breeding industry there was major concerns regarding the low numbers of yearlings entered in the sale. This was seen by most observers as another nail in the coffin of racing. Congratulations are offered to the HAM Stables for being champion breeders once again.

Let us resolve during 2013 to put aside all the folly, all the 'bangarang', all the hatred and work to instead begin the process of resuscitating racing to its rightful place of prominence.

All the best!




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