Victory in the Barbados Derby has eluded top racehorse trainer Robert Peirce for the past 20 years but he wants to change that this year.
“I have had three second places in the Derby … last year we lost in a close finish with Donicodidit but this year we are going for the trophy,” Peirce said.
A win in the Derby, which is an annual clash among locally-bred creoles, would be the crowning moment in an illustrious career for Peirce who is still celebrating as champion trainer of the 2016 Sandy Lane Gold Cup on March 5, when Jalon Samuel piloted Dorsett to victory.
Peirce spoke of his burning desire to add a victory in the Derby to his list of achievements last Friday night during an event at the Barbados Golf Club. It was staged to publicly recognise his accomplishment in the Gold Cup and his work with the Barbados Horse Charity and the jockey school.
Minister of Sport, Stephen Lashley, former horseracing commentator Dave Barnard, president of the Equestrian Association Monique Archer, BGC general manager Betty-June Leacock, and fellow trainer Johnathan Simpson were among those attending the event and who lauded the work of the trainer.
Minister Lashley, who also witnessed the Gold Cup win by Dorsett, said he was impressed with the work of Peirce and others like him in helping to push the sporting industry forward in Barbados and urged him to continue to share his knowledge with the younger generation.
Barnard, currently operations manager at the Barbados Golf Club where Peirce is a regular player, traced his history from toddler to champion trainer and revealed to the audience that he was once a jockey in the 1980s.
Barnard said Peirce, who was once an assistant to late top trainer Bill Marshall, was the winner of three Gold Cups (the first two in 2006 and 2009 with Sharp Impact and Daylight Express) and was the only trainer to assist his connections in earning $1million in a single year in racing in Barbados.
In thanking friends and well-wishers for their supportive words, the trainer said he was deeply involved and committed to the horse charity, which cares for retired horses, and to assisting young men at the jockey school where around 30 of them were being taught the basics of riding.
“That is really fulfilling for me and keeps me grounded outside of competitive racing. I also play golf which is also relaxing,” Peirce said.