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Mia calls for more race days

Justin Marville

Mia calls for more race days

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THE REGION’S biggest racing day can’t be the end-all of local horse racing.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley believes Barbados must find ways to have longer racing seasons so as to create a full horse racing industry instead of just trying to make the Sandy Lane Gold Cup a bigger event.
Mottley expressed the sentiment last Saturday while at the Garrison Savannah for one of the biggest Gold Cups in the last decade.
“When you look at other places in the world, there is racing on a more regular basis. So rather than just looking at the Gold Cup alone, we need to be looking at the full horse racing industry,” she said.
“[But] I think one of the problems we have to face is how we continue to both upgrade our infrastructure while at the same time improve our marketing. It’s not easy and I know the [Barbados] Turf Club has had some ideas over the years but, regrettably, a lot of it has not been taken to the next level.
“Things need to happen, though, because there’s no doubt in my head that the horse racing industry is a solid sector for growth within sports and tourism,” she added.
The Barbados Turf Club (BTC) has made efforts to create such an industry, though, including fielding race days on certain Thursdays to gauge fan interest and so as not to compete with other sporting events on Saturday.
There has even been a proposal to erect lights at the Garrison Savannah to facilitate night racing at the venue.
However, the project was stalled at the Town Planning offices after the Garrison area was designated a world  heritage site.
But a survey last year showed that residents in the area were mostly in favour of the project and the BTC received favourable responses coming out of a subsequent town hall meeting dealing with the issue.
“Regrettably, I don’t know what the status of the application [is] so these are things on which I can’t comment, but certainly, as I said, we need to treat it as an industry and to have it as an attraction that is more readily available for Barbadians and visitors to Barbados,” said Mottley.
“We need to also look at more opportunities for Barbadians who can do like Patrick Husbands, which means getting a school going again so we can plan to reposition the industry.”
Currently, the sport is run in three seasons per year with a total of almost 100 race days.