BTC and BTMI in negotiations to broadcast race regionally
By Anmar Goodridge-Boyce
The Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup race day is set to be aired on the Caribbean’s biggest sports cable channel next month.
SportsMax is on the verge of a historic broadcast agreement with the Barbados Turf Club (BTC) and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI), which will see the region’s most prestigious horse racing event being viewed by its largest ever audience.
The 40th running of the Gold Cup is scheduled for Saturday, March 4, at the Garrison Savannah and chief executive officer of the BTC Rosette Peirce told Barbados TODAY the broadcast deal with the Jamaica-based sports channel was close to completion.
“We are working right now to have SportsMax onboard to carry the Gold Cup through the region and that would have a huge impact on CARICOM and movement around the Caribbean. I haven’t signed on the dotted line as yet, but I can say that I’m 99 per cent sure that SportsMax and BTMI will join us this year for broadcast rights,” Peirce said in an exclusive interview.
“We are talking live broadcast and the beauty of it is that they [SportsMax] came to us. BTMI has been instrumental in making this happen so kudos to them. We are working together to ensure that it happens,” she added.
The Gold Cup will be contested over 1,800 metres (8.95 furlongs) and will be open to three-year-old and older horses from any country with a recognised turf authority. The minimum guaranteed purse for the race remains at $214,000.00.
The Sandy Lane Gold Cup was the last major sporting event to be held in Barbados prior to lockdowns and restrictions on sports caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Back in 2019, tickets were sold out with more than 10,000 patrons attending the marquee event on the race card.
In July 2021, BTC officials announced plans of staging the Gold Cup on December 26, Boxing Day, but it was called off. At the time, the BTC faced a major challenge with at least 200 cancellations in overseas bookings.
Peirce said the COVID-19 period was a difficult and challenging one for the entire fraternity.
“I think we held our own well. We had protocols in place but the buy-in from our stakeholders was extremely positive and the corporation level, we couldn’t have expected better and we came through without too many incidents. Naturally, the financial impact was one that we were a little fearful of at first, but again because of the way we handled it as a team and our stakeholders cooperated, we came through it with a positive outlook.
“It also taught us to be prepared for any eventuality and we recognise now that we are capable and confident to do whatever it takes to keep this product going. We came out and we going strong, our numbers are up and people are just excited and happy to have horse racing back and to be able to move around freely without any fear and in a safe environment,” she said.
Peirce maintained that the Gold Cup continues to be beneficial to the island’s tourism sector.
“Based on the way sales went, I think that we have definitely proven our contribution we are making to tourism. If the tourists know about this product so well, and book their holidays around this time then that speaks for itself. We are always trying our best to give back to the tourism product that is why we try to maintain the highest level for our Gold Cup. We know people are coming here specifically for that experience and we want to give them one that is memorable and would keep them coming back to Barbados,” Peirce said.