Cup boils over
NEITHER OVERCAST SKIES NOR STAND PRICES, regarded as high by some, got in the way of thousands of horse racing fans who thronged the Garrison Savannah yesterday for the 31st running of the Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup.
A slow but steady trickle of patrons in the early part of the day grew into a crush after midday, with every stand and vantage point filled by the time the National Anthem was played and MC Mac Fingall wittily sounded the fanfare for the pre-race show.
People took up vantage points around the track, standing three- and four-deep in some areas which in recent years had been bare on the year’s biggest race day. Several visitors to the island were seen in the crowd – evidence of the popularity of the race beyond Barbados.
Out on the pasture children frolicked in and around the two large jumping tents erected specifically for them, while stall-holders did brisk business with the sale of food and drink, as men and women fixed their eyes on the ball or the dice around the several tables that offered games of chance.
Upstairs, chefs were kept busy ensuring that buffet stations in some of the private boxes were replenished as some of Barbados’ best known names in horse racing entertained their specially invited guests.
In contrast to previous years, fashion was scaled down, with many choosing more casual wear for an event that has traditionally been a “dress-up” affair. There were hardly any of the statement hats normally worn by women in the private boxes.
The continuous rains on Friday may have impacted yesterday’s choice of dress, especially since more showers had been predicted for later in the day. There was in fact a light drizzle before the Gold Cup race started, but the skies cleared in time for the parade which has become a much anticipated feature of Sandy Lane Gold Cup Day.
Led off parade
The band of the Barbados Boy Scouts struck up at 4:15 p.m. leading off the parade of the Sandy Lane Majorettes dressed in pink costumes, the colour of the West Coast luxury hotel. Stiltsmen and ponies replaced the vintage cars that led off the parade in past years. Behind them the band of the Royal Barbados Police Force struck up Red Plastic Bag’s Once Upon A Wine and the majorettes got down to the business of wining down the muddy race track,
to the delight of spectators.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart watched the keenly contested race from inside the air-conditioned Sandy Lane private box, while horse owners like Lord Michael Taylor and Sir David Seale followed the race anxiously from their private balconies.
Speaking to the SUNDAY SUN before the race, Lord Michael Taylor was not optimistic about a win for favourite Show Me The Money. He said the soggy conditions on the track did not favour his horse. Sir David, on the other hand, thought he might have had a chance at winning. He had been forced to have one of his earlier runners, Surinan, put to sleep after it had suffered a broken leg.
When Dancin David eventually romped to victory followed by John Brian, another horse from Sir David’s stables, there was elation in Sir David’s box as everyone rushed to embrace the veteran horse owner and breeder, and punters down below jumped for joy at the spectacular win.