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Gold Cup row

Chris Gollop

Gold Cup row

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CONTROVERSY HAS HIT the Caribbean’s richest horse racing event days before it runs off.
That’s because Sir David Seale, president of the Barbados Turf Club (BTC), horse trainer Stephen Bynoe and Canadian millionaire Eugene Melnyck have objected to the entry of Kittitian horses in the prestigious annual Sandy Lane Gold Cup.
But lawyers representing Kittitian owner Arthur Sharpe have warned of legal action should stewards of the BTC not allow the horses to compete on the grounds that St Kitts is not a recognised racing jurisdiction.
DAILY NATION investigations have, however, revealed that the BTC board met on February 15 and it was unaminously agreed to approve the entry of the St Kitts-owned horses in a race with total prize money of $200 000.
That was one week before entries closed for the annual event, the 30th running of which is due to take place on Saturday at the Garrison Savannah.
Roger Forde is one of two Barbadian lawyers representing Sharpe, the other being Dr Adrian Cummins.
Forde said yesterday that once the Kittitian horses met the criteria and were selected to compete in the two main races on Gold Cup day, the registration fees were paid in stages.
“Up to now, the owner has incurred more than $100 000 in costs,” said Forde, explaining that the horses were already in the island.
 Presently, two Kittitian horses have been selected for the 12-horse Gold Cup – one of which has also been selected for the Spa Sprint – another Sandy Lane-sponsored race. There is another St Kitts entry for the Spa Sprint.
However, since the horses were selected, Sir David, Bynoe and Melnyck lodged an objection to the 22-member BTC’s stewards body.
Inside sources said yesterday that their objection should have been made to the four stewards of the day, who are now expected to meet with the objectors and Sharpe and his lawyers to reach a final decision.
“An objection has been lodged,” acknowledged Rosetta Peirce, chief executive officer of the BTC.
For the Gold Cup, there are seven horses entered from Barbados, one from the United States, one from Canada, also owned by Melnyck, one from Trinidad and two from St Kitts.
The Seale-owned, Bynoe- trained Reward Me is the first reserve for the race should any of the other horses not be available.
In the VII Sandy Lane Spa Sprint Stakes and Trophy, the first reserve is Melnyck’s Emerald Crescent.
The DAILY NATION understands that a closed-door meeting was held yesterday and lawyers representing Sharpe expect to hold a meeting with all parties concerned today or tomorrow.
“Mr Sharpe was due to fly in this evening. Our understanding is that all criteria have been met and his horses should be allowed to compete in the race,” said Forde. “Failing that we will have to take legal action.”
When contacted yesterday, Sir David declined comment, referring the matter to Stephen Walcott, the BTC’s lawyer, who would only confirm that a five-page objection had been lodged by the respective owners and trainer.
Melnyck could not be reached for a comment yesterday.