SUPREME Ventures Racing & Entertainment Limited (SVREL), the sole promoter of horse racing in Jamaica, hosted a flag-lowering ceremony to honour the late Christopher Armond, who was a stalwart in the sport.
The brief ceremony took place at the track before the start of the races on Saturday.
Armond, popularly called Mr Horse Racing, died last Wednesday morning after a short illness. He was 67.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather Altamont and his father Joseph, Christopher Armond spent his entire working career in the horse racing industry in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
He started out as a commentator of races before moving into administration, and was known for his undying commitment to the sport and his innovativeness. He retired from his job as director of racing at SVREL just over a year ago and was honoured with a trophy race, The Chris Armond Sprint.
General manager at SVREL, Lorna Gooden said that the passing of Armond has left a gap in the racing industry.
“Oh my! ‘Mr Armond’, that is what I had called him ever since I met him. I knew the voice before I came to Supreme Ventures and Caymanas Park. He was a tremendous historic mentor and the voice of Caymanas. You know ‘Spuddy’ [Brian Rickman] has taken over but he [Chris Armond] was the voice of Caymanas to me — and this is a significant loss to the industry.
“I know he was working with the regulator [Jamaica Racing Commission] in a consultation capacity now, having retired, and he is going to be missed because he has taken with him years — 49 plus years of experience — and the industry is going to miss a stalwart, someone who... dedicated his life to the industry, both here and abroad in Barbados and Trinidad. My condolences go out to his family at this time,” Gooden told the Jamaica Observer during the ceremony.
Howard Hamilton, president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), described Armond as an icon of the sport.
“He was one of the most outstanding contributors to the racing industry over many, many years — from his family coming right down — and there’s no words that can express how much we can appreciate the contribution he has made to racing,” he said.
Starter Michael Simms, who was also present at the ceremony, said Armond was “a legend” in horse racing..
“Chris Armond was a man that you would say is ‘Mr Racing’. The few years I got to work with him, this man was a wealth of knowledge. He taught me a whole lot about his experience in racing.
“He was a warm individual and is somebody who we should have something like a book or something, just to have all his experiences as he should be documented. He is a great man and will be missed by everybody,” Simms said.
A long-time friend of Armond, Alden Tomlinson, who is a tractor driver at the Park, also came to pay his respects to Armond.
“Mr Chris was a gentleman, believe me, as I have worked with him for many years. I mean, when Chris tells you to do something, that’s exactly what you must do. He is not a person that is easily upset — he was a kind and passionate person and I missed him so much. When he left racing and came back it was me and him as I never left his side, and my condolence goes out to his family members and friends,” Tomlinson said.
— Ruddy Allen