Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, under whose portfolio horse racing falls, has always been expressing concern over the poor crowd in the Members’ Stand at Santa Rosa Park, Arima, whenever she comes to the races.
And on the Trinre-sponsored Caribbean Championship day’s racing a week ago when the Minister arrived in the Members Stand, she looked around and asked, “Where is the crowd.”
This is not the first time that Gopee-Scoon has expressed dissatisfaction over the small attendance in the Members Stand.
The ARC has put forward a short, medium and long-term proposal to the Minister recently to show how the flagging fortunes of the racing industry can be turned around but she has to take the proposal to Cabinet for approval. The ARC is hoping the government would pass the Gaming legislation within six months as promised by Finance Minister Colm Imbert to save the industry from collapse.
Over the years the crowd at races has been dwindling and it is just a handful of diehard members and race fans who come to support the Sport of Kings every week.
However, despite the small crowd on the Caribbean Championship Day punters invested a total of $1.2 million – of which $135,000 was on the simulcast racing from the USA and Canada.
Arima Race Club (ARC) President Robert Bernard was quoted in a daily newspaper last week as saying a silver lining is on the horizon for the turnaround of local horse racing, reminiscent, no doubt of Imbert’s “we can see clearly now”
Bernard said, “although we are operating in a most challenging environment, we are beginning to see some light ahead”
But some officials are asking how long this ARC dream plan will take before the dark clouds move away and Bernard can see the silver lining.
Currently, the ARC owes owners more than $6 million in prize monies and by the end of the year, this figure can jump close to $10 million because of the prize money in the upcoming stakes races for the Christmas, including the Boxing Day Gold Cup.
Owners can’t keep their horses in the stable and have to race them even if it is twice a month.
Some officials have been asking the ARC to reduce the race days to about two races a month, to keep down the cost of staging seven or eight races a week.