Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 21st 2013 Contents A49
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Followers of horse racing in T&T
can be forgiven for thinking that, like
local politics, horse racing makes for
strange bedfellows and even that
maybe horse racing in Trinidad has a
morality of its own.
The new T&T Racing Authority
(TTRA) has been making efforts to clear
up the backlog of matters that arose
during its absence but it seems that
various unknown forces are preventing
them from completing their duties.
Hopefully, the remaining cases of
alleged doping infractions will be
resolved shortly. What is of more con-
cern however is the continued and
growing allegation of blatant bribery
and corruption in the sport.
It seems as though the "Sport of
Kings" in Trinidad is rapidly descending
into the realm of being the "Sport of
Alliances are springing up between
individuals whose only interest is cor-
rupting the morals of the sport. These
individuals seem hell bent on influ-
encing the outcome of specific races,
not through guile and cunning or the
clever placement of their horses but
through naked intimidation and obscene
use of cash.
Gone seem to be the days when a
trainer and/or owner would lay out a
particular horse for an event, carefully
husbanding the horse s handicap rating
(or classification in days gone by) to
pull off a betting coup.
This required more skill and patience
than today s younger generation seem
willing to expend.
Of course, in days gone by, you had
many an infamous race but that was
more the exception than the rule. Or
at least, it was not very obvious to the
average turfite. The situation is the
complete reverse at present.
Natural justice dictates that people
be proven guilty before they are con-
victed but in order to do so, the system
to detect and prove need to be put in
place. It is, for the absence of the latter,
that those in authorities would have to
bear significant blame.
Why is there still no investigative
unit of the TTRA? Why is there no
whistle-blower infrastructure for
anonymous complaints to be made?
Why is there no action taken against
warned-off trainers who continue to
ply their trade from nearby premises?
These are just some of the questions
that the relevant authorities will have
to answer when they are eventually
called to account.
The Arima Race Club (ARC) board
needs to ask themselves what is their
vision for the sport. Are they happy
with its current direction-less state?
The main issues that they need to
address are the quality of the race fram-
ing, the quality of the race-stewarding
and the quality of the handicapping.
These are the three issues that can
determine the fate of the horse racing
At the moment, the framers of horse
racing have given in to the dark side
and are framing races primarily for the
lower class horses in Trinidad. It
remains a regular feature that races for
horses rated 100 or higher are cancelled
while there are at least four races for
horses rated 45 and lower.
Interestingly, this is probably the only
country in which a minimum rating is
used when framing races so that races
are framed for horses rated 55 to 40 as
opposed to horses rated 55 and lower.
The reason for this approach is not
clear and should be reconsidered.
The framers then need to become
creative in their race framing, for exam-
ple, races for horses who have never
placed in the first four; races for horses
who have not won more than a certain
amount of money; and more races for
the top class horses over intermediate
distances like 1,350 metres.
Then we have the quality of the race-
stewarding. It was quite notable on
Toyota Day at the Races that the major-
ity of the stewards were fairly inexpe-
rienced. While this is normally trans-
parent to turfites, it could have dramatic
implications as it did on that day for
the connections of Zorro. There is no
doubt that Zorro closed down on Lady
Marisa who in turn drifted in towards
Classic Material, whose rider appeared
to have to ease momentarily. Classic
Material was however one pacing at
the time and there was subsequently
enough time for the mare to re-gather
herself and move forward.
The fact that both Thisisit (who
passed both Classic Material and Lady
Marisa) on their insides and Super Sonic
who flew past both on their outside
were the only ones to close down the
leader/winner Zorro, who was even-
tually disqualified, speaks volumes for
the poor decision that was taken. More
experienced stewards might have yield-
ed a different result but even if not,
there may have been more confidence
in the stewards decision making.
The final point is the quality of the
handicapping. The guidelines governing
the handicapping of horses in this coun-
try are as clear as mud and this is not
good for a nascent system. In fact, it
seems there is very limited movement
of horses other than winners.
Additionally, there seems no attempt
at collateral movement of horses based
on back form with horses who have
been moved in either direction. For a
handicapping system to work, it needs
to be more responsive to what is taking
place on the track. If only winners and
one or two defeated horses are adjusted,
the system is certain to be stunted.
Until tangible changes and improve-
ments are made, we just appear to be
on a merry-go-round in this country,
without the cheer.
ST JOHN'S---Jamaican fast bowler Sheldon Cot-
terell, who created an impression with his pace
during the preliminary round of the Caribbean Pre-
mier League (CPL), says his burning ambition is
to play cricket at the highest level.
Cotterell who caused a stir due to his ability to
bowl in excess of 140 kilometres per hour, his eight
wickets in the tournament as well as his military
salute upon claiming a scalp, is also anticipating a
pick on the upcoming West Indies A team tour to
"My ambition? I only have one ambition and that
is to play cricket at the highest level (I can)," said
"West Indies Test cricket---that is my pride and
joy. Whether playing for my club or my country, my
goal has always been to make it to the West Indies
The left-arm bowler who celebrated his 24th birth-
day on Monday has seen his profile soar after enjoying
a tournament that has been successful for him.
The Jamaican pacer has also been recognized for
his distinctive celebration---a straight-backed military
"I am a Jamaica Defence Force soldier and I take
pride in my work," he said. (CMC)
WI senior squad
and that is to
play cricket for
the West Indies.
Andre E Baptiste
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