Walkers and joggers are creating problems at the Garrison Savannah and Barbados Turf Club (BTC) officials are not pleased
Chief Executive Officer of the BTC, Rosette Peirce, explained that their seeding programme was being undone by persons either walking or jogging around the racetrack. She said that they believe it was ignorance of the situation rather than intentional actions, hence the reason they opted to put an advertisement in the press urging the public against walking across the track.
In a telephone interview with Barbados TODAY, Peirce explained that ever since permission was granted by the Government for persons to resume exercising following an ease in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) curfew, the number of walkers around the Garrison track had increased significantly.
Blocking off the area was not an option and that was why in her capacity as CEO of the BTC, Peirce stressed the need for the public to comply during this time.
“The number of walkers increased when permission was granted for exercise. That was some time ago and we anticipate now that it (curfew) has been relaxed even further you will see things going back to relatively normal. So, we just want to be careful, take that extra step and alert people to the fact that we have these work ongoing. We would really need them to consider going to the designated entry rather than just crossing over willy-nilly whenever they chose.
“We don’t own the area, so we are really not authorized to restrict any access to the Garrison. That is not an option unless the Government so approved. And to block off the Garrison would be even more costly. We really don’t have any real options other than to engage the public and beg their indulgence and cooperation and that is what we are aiming to do.
“So the longer the grass takes to grow, aside from the fact that we are still on lockdown and that the pandemic is still ongoing and we don’t know when we will be able to start, all these things will come together and it is a cocktail for disaster for us. We want to resume racing as soon as possible but we can’t race if we don’t have grass,” Peirce said.
The maintenance work initially scheduled for August 31 to November 21 was brought forward due to COVID-19 and the subsequent national curfew.
Currently, the grass planted is new and according to Peirce is at a very delicate stage. She explained: “We are at a stage where there is significant germination. So again, a very delicate stage where the grass is new, it is now germinating, we are now starting to see some greenery in certain areas. Not all over but that is an indication that we are at a very delicate stage.
“If people continue to walk or run on it, the seeds and the bits of grass we are starting to see – very young grass – will obviously not be able to sustain any kind of pressure at this stage and then we would run into problems.”
The BTC’s board of directors remains hopeful that racing will resume sometime later this year.
However, Peirce noted that even with permission it was hardly unlikely they would be able to have those races because it would require the horses to be well prepared. And with work being done to the track during this time and bearing in mind the COVID-19, it would be very unlikely.
Events such as the Triple Crown which consists of three races with the first leg scheduled for this month, then the Midsummer Classic which would have been the second leg and then the big Derby in August were all planned.
Also, the Boxing Day race in December which is the second-largest event on the local horse racing calendar might be in jeopardy if things don’t go as planned. In fact, besides the Sandy Lane Gold Cup, this particular race attracts thousands of people and for it not to be staged is something Peirce said she didn’t want to imagine.
“It is highly unlikely even with permission that we get to do those races because those are races that would require the horses to be very well prepared. Even if we were given permission to open, we couldn’t very well take these young horses and get them ready so quickly for a race of that calibre. So those are major races that we would be losing.
“Considering that we have not had any positive results [COVID-19] for some time, hopefully that trend will continue and that the rest of the island has started to open with some limitations, we are willing to open with limitations as well. But we have to start sometime. It is not just a sport, it is a business because it is many employees that need to get back to work like any other business place. We are very hopeful,” Peirce said.
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