Night racing ‘soon’
The green light of approval from the Town and Country Planning Department is all that stands between Bajan race fans and night racing at the Garrison.
And president of the Barbados Turf Club, Sir David Seale has indicated to the WEEKEND NATION that the process is at the orange stage.
In an impromptu interview in his private box at last Saturday’s Sandy Lane Gold Cup, Sir David said he was expecting approval for the plan to light up the facility for night racing “very soon”.
Since the Garrison was declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage site, Sir David said there were certain stipulations in that arrangement that would have affected the original design of lighting for the race track.
There are other areas of improvement for the Garrison that are also awaiting planning approval by the same Governmental department.
“The problem is we have applications in for extending the Grand Stand, and for extending the Betting Hall at the back of the Grand Stand, but that is all tied up in the World Heritage business, so when we get the permission, which I hope is soon, we will be able to move,” Sir David said.
For the owner of the Hopefield Stables where some of the island’s champion race horses have been bred, the lights can hardly go on too soon.
He said: “Wherever you have evening racing large crowds come. When you race at a time of day that people are available, they will come. It allows you to have day-night racing and allows you to race on any day.”
The seven-time winner of the prestigious Gold Cup said had there been lights for the 2014 Sandy Lane Gold Cup, the Barbados Turf Club would likely have started races at 3:30 p.m. and gone into the evening.
Still he was happy it was “a lovely crowd” that turned out at the Garrison last weekend.
“I would reckon that we have done a lot better betting wise than we have done in the last couple of Gold Cups because as soon as you have a horse of the quality of the winner Major Marvel, you attract people.”
He however expressed concern about “antiquated quarantine laws” through which horses from overseas must go into two weeks quarantine before they can be flown to Barbados and must be quarantined again when they arrive here.
Sir David said this was “problematic and costly” and suggested it could be a hindrance to wider foreign participation by overseas-based interests in local horse racing.