Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 12th 2015 Contents nos. Faced with these
realities, any one desirous
of running this sport has
to begin by acknowledg-
ing these realities and be
prepared for unpopular
decisions. So what are the
Firstly, OTBs need to
be re-positioned. Why
can t OTBs either become
PMCs or install electronic
bandits as per the hun-
dreds of bars scattered
around the country? It seems that we cannot install
such devices at the racetrack for reasons which are
not clear to me, but so be it. Let us use the OTBs as
the entry point into this line of business.
Secondly, we need to reduce the number of racing
days. There are too many racing days and it is taking
a toll on both the club, its plant and the horses. We
should reduce the number of race days and increase
the number of races per day. At the moment, assuming
45 race days with an average nine races per day, that
translates into 405 races per annum.
If we were to reduce to 40 race days, and seek to
have 10 races per day, we have almost the same amount
of races while reducing the built in overhead associated
with five extra days. It may even be possible to increase
some racing purses going this route.
Thirdly, we have to look at racing purses. There has
been talk about lowering racing purses, this would be
a myopic approach since it is likely to result in more
people, particularly owners, leaving the industry. This
is exactly the opposite of what is needed.
What is also needed is owners to invest in better
quality horses. More people come to races to see good
horses run than to see average or poor horses race.
We need better horses in this country.
Most of our races are scheduled for the lower class
horses and the valid argument that is advocated is
that the majority of our horses fall into this category.
That is our present but are we satisfied with it also
being our future?
Reducing the number of racedays would enable us
to possibly contest races with smaller fields since we
have more races.
Fourthly, we need to clean up the sport. There are
too many unscrupulous individuals involved in the
sport. We need better regulation and monitoring of
the activities of owners, trainers and jockeys.
The administration needs to be seen to be taking
action against obvious transgressors.
A cleaner sport will contribute to more owners and
punters. Cleaning up will also result in sponsors return-
ing. But there is also the need to revamp the marketing.
Consideration has to be made of the economic value
of both the English and American feed and a cost/ben-
efit analysis done by management with an open mind.
Fifthly, racing needs to get its act together when it
comes to promoting itself. We need to be able to tell
sponsors how they will benefit. Do we know that they
will? If we don t know, can we structure it in such
a way that they are? The age old approach that it is
a good day out for clients will not cut it anymore.
Sponsors must be offered more.
What are we doing to attract punters? Right now,
only those who follow the sport probably even know
that racing is taking place on any given day.
Horse racing needs to advertise and promote itself---
in a situation where funding is low, it needs to look
to social media---tweets, email, facebook, etc should
be brought into greater play to attract new people to
Sixthly, we need to reduce administrative expenses.
A close examination is required of all components of
the operating costs. The auditors can be of great assis-
tance here. Reducing the number of racedays would
help but it is also necessary to look at other areas.
Urgent work is required if racing is not to run
aground. We must start now, otherwise it will not get
Wednesday, August 12, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Reports emanating from the
Arima Race Club (ARC) suggest
that racing is about to be placed
in receivership. This would be
an unfortunate development.
Not even during the 1980s
when T&T went through serious
recession following a drop in oil
prices to as low as $1 have we
seen the likes of what we are
When one considers that in
those days the country main-
tained three race tracks, most
would be left to wonder where
did we go wrong? Was it cen-
tralisation at Arima? Was it the
switch from a turf to a sand sur-
face? Was it the death or depar-
ture from the sport of some of
our most respected figures? Or
was it simply maladministration?
Undoubtedly, the truth lies
somewhere in between all of
those possibilities. There are a
number of realities with which
we need to come to terms with.
Racing, if it continues, is not
going to be moving from Arima
anytime soon. Even if Caroni was
to become a reality, it would take
a number of years to construct
and during that time, we have
to continue racing.
Also the existing administra-
tion of the sport is not necessarily
going to be improved by their
replacement with government
appointees (whichever govern-
ment that might be).
We can only look around at
the various organisations dom-
inated by political appointees to
validate that conclusion. Thirdly,
the private sector people that we
might like to get involved in the
administration are unlikely to
step out of the background.
That is just the way it is and
has been for a very long time.
Fourthly, while gambling (or gam-
ing) remains a favourite pastime
for many, gambling on horses
now faces severe competition
from all sources---lottery, Play
Whe, whe whe, PMCs, electronic
bandits in bars, and online casi-
Urgent balm needed to heal racing
Andre E Baptiste
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