The beautifully crafted 18-carat Sandy Lane Gold Cup arrived this afternoon at the Grantley Adams International Airport for what will be the 37th staging of the prestigious event on Saturday, March 2.
Minted in England and flown into Barbados on British Airways, the coveted Cup was presented by Captain Richard Salmon to Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Stephen Lashley, general manager of Sandy Lane, Randall Wilkie and director of the Barbados Turf Club, Kevin Burke.
A ten-race card is scheduled for the big day and when the major event runs off Dorsett will be the horse to beat once again. Ridden by Jalon Samuel last year, the champion horse claimed a second consecutive Gold Cup and connections will be seeking a three-peat next month.
During his brief address, Lashley told the small gathering inside the Grantley Adams Suite that Barbadians had a love affair with horse racing. He said, as a result, the Ministry of Sports launched a programme called Galloping Ahead that saw 25 young persons being trained in horse care and 18 of them had completed the initiative.
“It was only in June 2017 that the ministry launched the new initiative called Galloping Ahead, a project to train 25 young persons between the ages of 18 and 25 in the field of horse care that would ultimately lead to the acquisition of licences for them to become jockeys. During the 12 weeks of training, the participants were exposed to all aspects of horse care and riding that prepared them with the skills to function effectively in the horse racing and affiliated industries both locally and abroad,” Lashley said.
He added: “The project was designed to conform to the strategies identified, to address the critical issues of youth empowerment and of course youth employment in Barbados. A life skills component was included to ensure that participants benefit from exposure to skills, to enhance their personal development that would enable them to make informed decisions to shape their future.”
Sandy Lane has been the title sponsor for the past 22 years and Wilkie said the hotel remained committed to the staging of the highly anticipated horseracing event.
“At Sandy Lane, we have embraced this role and with our partnerships, do all we can to enhance the tourism product of Barbados and increase visitors arrivals,” Wilkie said.
Meanwhile, Captain Salmon explained that out of the 35 years they have had the honour of transporting the Cup, it had been flown 16 times on the 747 Concord aircraft and for the last 19 years on the Boeing 777 on which it was transported today.
“We are very proud of our long and enjoyable partnership with the Sandy Lane hotel and the many years of transporting the cup on their behalf.”
Last Friday 11 horses were entered at the final stage of the selection process for the Gold Cup. These included Chip Leader, Shining Copper, Sir Dudley Diggles, Dorsett, Trini Navigator, Infrared, Campaigners Gold,Just A Fashion, Not now Again, Marcus Antonius and Won Grand.