RACING, dubbed the "sport of kings," is set to resume on Saturday at the Santa Rosa Park, Arima. This will be the first sporting action in TT since the Prime Minister allowed the resumption of sports, as the covid19 lockdown eases.
The Arima Race Club (ARC) last staged a day of races at Santa Rosa Park on March 14, before sports were halted owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, ARC president Robert Bernard and management committee member John O’Brien commented on the absence of funds generated by the sport during the covid19 lockdown.
But jockeys and grooms are still miffed that their pleas for outstanding sums owed by the ARC for almost a year have fallen on deaf ears.
Two jockeys and a groom, who spoke on Thursday at the Santa Rosa Park, predict a bleak future for the sport in TT if their needs continue to remain unanswered.
One jockey, who preferred to be named "Charles, "said, “The problem is (the ARC) haven’t been paying us our stakes and commissions what we earned from since last year. We’re really depressed (about) that.
“During the covid, nobody never got (any) help. Nobody even tried to help us (or) put anything in place for us. We’re a bit disappointed when it comes to that. On top of that, the stakes dropped by 65 per cent. You’re going out there for next to nothing.”
Another jockey, who gave his name as "Shane, " said, “I’m disappointed because I don’t think there have a future down here anymore. There have no (covid19) protocols in place for us to be riding here, no safeguards, nothing.”
Charles acknowledged, “We, the jockeys, (are) keeping the races alive. If it wasn’t for us, this place would have closed down already. We love horse racing. It’s the sport of kings. We don’t want to see all this go down the drain. But, at the same time, we need help.
“We have our families to mind, bills to pay. We can’t go into the groceries or to pay bills and say, 'I have so-and-so wins, when I collect (my) money I can pay.' It doesn’t work like that. We need to pay our bills.”
Asked if he has any message to the ARC, the Betting Levy Board or the Racehorse Owners Association, Shane replied, “I’ll like them to make a signed commitment saying they’ll pay us by this due date. It’s not just word for word, not promises.
“Five years (ago) they promised that they’re going to sell a piece of land (at the park). Up to now, nothing (as yet). Put it in writing, so we can sign, and they can sign, and if anything goes wrong, it can end up in court. It (must) be in black and white, for us to move forward.”
A groom, who preferred to remain anonymous, pointed out, “We gave (the ARC) too much of rope and nobody want to say anything. They say they’ll pay us after they sell land. They need an audit (and to) let us know what is going on.”
Concerning any plans to take protest action, the groom said, “Right now we’re planning. John Public don’t know what going on in here.”