A SIX-RACE horse racing event was the first sporting event to resume since the Government relaxed some of its covid19 guidelines. Trainers and stakeholders were thankful that the Government allowed them to resume racing, but because of no spectators the event lacked energy and vibe, on Saturday.
Hundreds of people normally attend horse racing on a Saturday, at Santa Rosa Park, in Arima, but on this occasion only a handful of trainers, owners and employees were present. No fans are allowed because of covid19.
Trainer Chester Roberts said he was glad to be back, despite the situation not being ideal. “I looked forward to it long time...not the best way possible that I am accustomed to or I like, but I appreciate it still.” Roberts had four horses competing.
Roberts, who spoke with Newsday just before his fourth horse ran, was satisfied with the standard of his horses. “They were not too bad. Two of them ran fourth, one ran second...they were right there.”
Speaking about the restrictions on spectators, he said, “It is a totally different feeling. It is not something I am accustom to really and truly. I hope this condition don’t last too long. We need spectators to hear the noise...we miss that.”
Trainers, owners and jockeys have not been paid for months due to the lay off since March. Roberts said they are managing. “I feel the owners are the most hard pressed because they are the ones who have to pay bills still, but we coping with it. They hanging in there, we thank them for that and hope that it turns around.”
Trainer Glen Mendez was also elated to return to Santa Rosa. “(We are) horsemen, we all happy to be back. This is what we do, this is our passion, our hobby and some of us is pure business. We are happy, things have gone fairly smoothly today and we just looking forward to continuing. I think things have gone smoothly in terms of all the protocols that they put in place. One or two areas maybe could be improved, but I am sure they will look at it and do what they need to do.”
Mendez said spectators bring a level of entertainment to the races. “It is always more exciting with the fans here. We do this also for the fans and they have supported us all along. It is not the same racing without them and we hope to have them back soon. It makes it a lot more exciting and the atmosphere of course will be better with them here.”
Trainer and owner Anthony Leotaud, said he felt “bad” not seeing spectators.
Leotaud, who works alongside John O’Brien had eight horses competing. He said the lay off was great for the horses. “The little rest was good for the horses. They just like us they need a little holiday.”
Commentator Nicholas Chadee also gave his thoughts on the resumption. “Pretty excited (to be back.) The atmosphere is not as it use to be, but it is still very exciting and we happy that the Government allow us to start racing.”
Chadee said he has maintained his same style of commentary despite less fans in attendance. “I am the biggest fan of horse racing I would think, so I always get excited with races so I just have my normal style as usual.”
Chadee said he missed the fans and is hopeful they will return soon.