Gold Cup fever on
NOW THAT THE general election is over, attention now swings to the next big event on the calendar – Barbados’ biggest race day featuring the Sandy Lane Gold Cup.
Thousands are expected to converge on the Garrison Savannah on Saturday to witness this riveting spectacle filled with rhythm, dance, culture and courageous displays – a combination of equine and human skills of the highest order.
The Gold Cup is to Barbadian race fans what the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup are to Americans, the Grand National is to England and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to France.
Over the last three decades this race has grown into to an internationally recognized sporting event sponsored by one of the world’s leading five star hotels – Sandy Lane.
Thousands around the globe have witnessed horses from Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique, Jamaica, St Kitts, the United States, Canada and Barbados competing on what can be described as a unique track in a fantastically warm and social climate.
Many tourists visit at the beginning of March not only for the beautiful beaches, hospitality, and great food but to take in all the pomp and pageantry associated with this world class event.
There have been many improvements made at the Garrison, inclusive of new seats in the Grand Stand, an electronically operated tote board and a brand new timing system.
The race has certainly maintained its high standards where prestige is concerned as many owners, trainers and jockeys from around the world have graced our track with their presence.
As in all sports, an exceptional athlete emerges maybe every decade, more recently the likes Usain Bolt in athletics, Tiger Woods in golf and Brian Lara in cricket.
The horse racing world has been in awe of the likes of Zenyetta, Rachel Alexandra and Frankel, the perfect equine and maybe the greatest horse ever to grace a race track.
Jockeys Jerry Bailey and Lanfranco Dettori have all kept the heart beat fluttering at alarming and at times unbelievable paces.
In Barbados, many fans have been thrilled by horses such as Incitatus and Coo Bird and when it comes to Gold Cups, Stanford Prince and Blast Of Storm, who are the most successful horses ever to win this race, each having won it three times.
Top local jockeys such as Venice Richards, Jonathon Jones and Patrick Husbands have made their mark on the race as has distinguished trainer William “Bill” Marshall.
While the economic downturn has affected every major sector, horse racing’s many faithful sponsors continue to support the cause to keep the industry afloat.
The mere fact that the Sandy Lane Gold Cup has maintained its scope throughout the years, is testimony to the magnitude and the belief in this product and its meaning to Barbadians.