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TURFITES ARE excited about racing again in a way that hasn’t been seen at the Garrison Savannah in years. I think I know why. Rivalries, on and off the track, come to mind. For instance, if you look at the field for today’s Victor Chandler Stakes and Trophy for the top class animals, it puts everything into perspective. I see it as a case of the new kids on the block against the tried and tested veterans. And depending on who you talk to, some expect this race to represent the changing of the guard notwithstanding that the Sandy Lane Gold Cup is just three months away. It doesn’t matter to some that this race will be run over 1570 metres and the Gold Cup at 1800 metres, they are adamant that the future stars will emerge today, relegating the fading ones to the background. This kind of talk has created a buzz as well as divisions among pundits. The verbal hype went viral last race day when Aristodemus turned in one of the most devastating and impressive performances seen at the Garrison in years. His acceleration in the homestrecth blew the opposition into oblivion. The superlatives used to describe the triumph were numerous with many of the supporters – the emotional and the objective – stopping just short of declaring the Sir David Seale-owned animal the next Gold Cup winner. But wait a minute, young pretenders like Shared Adventure and Discreetwon are also on the tongues of race fans. The former is destined to be one of the best sprinters we have seen in donkey years while the latter seems to have the pedigree to make waves for a prolonged period. Even though he’s missing in action due to injury, you’re hearing murmurs that only if this year’s Gold Cup winner Dancin’ David was around how much more competitive today’s feature race would be. Presumably the old guard refers to the likes of crowd favourite Apostle and Show Me The Money. In fact, Apostle took their last clash by a head. I believe if the going is firm these two will make it very difficult for the young pretenders to be high on the tins especially if their jockeys send them in hot pursuit of these two well known frontrunners. Judgement of pace could decide the outcome under all conditions. Here it is, though, that the Barbados Turf Club (BTC) has an event that virtually markets itself and doesn’t really show up its weaknesses in this area. Traditionally, big crowds turn out for the Boxing Day card putting it second only to the Gold Cup in terms of patronage. So whereas these two are brands that sell themselves, the same can’t be said for the lack of high profile promotion of other big days including the prestigious United Derby. This is where the BTC must step up their game because they have the same responsibility to all sponsors who help to sustain this great sport. Sponsorship is the lifeblood of horse racing so I think it would be appropiate to reciprocate by giving them more mileage for their money. It is deserving from the standpoint that if they don’t partner with the BTC the size of purses can be affected because I don’t think that subscriptions alone can make racing viable. I know the Turf Club have assisted in television projects such as the periodic See You At The Races and the seasonal King Of Sports but they might need to go further with their promotion in the electronic and print media. The Kent Layne-inspired Garrison Savannah website also serves to create interest in the sport with video, information and discussion. Layne deserves special praise for this initiative. In other words, there are many stakeholders who are willing to help promote horse racing but in all fairness the BTC, as the parent and one of the main beneficiaries, should be leading the gallop in this respect. In terms of improving customer service, I think they can consider having an ATM machine installed to help patrons with immediate cash flows should they need it. Oops, I almost forgot the frenetic and intense battle for supremacy among the jockeys for this year’s title. Will it be the in-form Reshawn Latchman? Will it be the capable and ambitious apprentice Antonio Whitehall or somebody else? And does the average person know that the talented Jalon Samuel is back from his stint in the United States? It’s been a relatively quiet return for him but we all know his penchant for winning big races. A hint that you could side with his mount in today’s big race which has excitement galore. • Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.