Raising the ‘gate’ in horse racing
Stabroek News
July 29, 2003

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Sportscope has taken note of recent developments in horse racing where controversy was the order of the day with results of races being openly questioned.

At the last Silver Park races on the West Coast of Berbice race one was ruled a `dead heat’ as a result of video evidence.

What was interesting to us is the fact that the video technician was in fact a private individual with his own equipment!

The question here is what measures do the authorities have in place to secure the integrity of `results’ should other races end in similar vein?

A knowledgeable source told Sportscope that in the 60’s and 70’s photo finishes were recorded at the former Durban Park Racing Track. The source also revealed that the local authorities have been trying for sometime now to acquire this `piece’ of equipment without much success. One of the major hindrances seems to be the cost of the relevant technology.

However, we at Sportscope are of the opinion that it would be a sign of much needed progress, if the authorities acquired such equipment in the event of a recurrence of the incident alluded to earlier.

At the Silver Park one-day `meeting’, a few weeks ago, the late start of the first race was most annoying and probably to a large degree mirrors `starts’ at other `meets’.

This certainly was unprofessional behaviour by the authorities since patrons expect races to begin as advertised.

The Guyana Horse Racing Authority (GHRA) needs to be more vigilant in urging its members to set higher standards, raising the `gate’ so to speak.

Sportscope will be at the next `races’ set for the Port Mourant Race Track to get a `bird’s eye’ view of the systems in place to ensure racing is conducted `properly’.

Another issue at hand is the treatment and remuneration of jockeys. It has been observed by Sportscope, that many jockeys seem to be the least important aspect of racing in Guyana. At several racing `meets’ including the last two that this newspaper attended it seemed that their welfare was `secondary’. At the last Kennard’s Memorial meeting it was reported that a jockey fell and was hurt and more recently at the Silver Park races two jockeys fell from their mounts. The lives of jockeys are practically `on the line’ each time they mount a horse to race for a mere `pittance’.

Can the authorities reveal to the public what rewards a jockey gets for not only riding the winning horse but also merely mounting a horse to ride in a race? Or more specifically can the GHRA let the public `in’ on how well jockeys are faring in Guyana? We at Sportscope would like to remind readers of an incident which occurred at a certain race track when a jockey lost his life. We were also told that that jockey’s widow was to be given “a sum of money”. Can the GHRA say how much this sum of money was or if anything else was given/donated to the widow? Are jockeys insured for each race? What is the policy of the local authorities with regards to remuneration, compensation and safety of jockeys?

It is quite evident to us at Sportscope that most jockeys ride horses more because of an undying love for riding and not so much the financial rewards!

We were also told sometime ago that there is a Jockeys Association which represents their interests.

What we at Sportscope would like to know is who heads that association, how many members are a part, whether it is representative of the entire gamut of the jockey `pool’ and further whether or not that body is just a “rubber stamp” put in place for the sake of having such a body?

We would also like to ask the pertinent question, if you don’t have a jockey then who will ride the horses? The fact remains that a horse owner who wins a race gets the `hog’ of the rewards and maybe he or she deserves such rewards since they may have committed time and resources to ensure that `end’. This however cannot take away from the fact that a horse without a jockey is useless thus underlying the important role jockeys play.

Sportscope has also taken note of jockeys being the beneficiaries of reasonable financial rewards regionally and internationally.

We are not saying that the Guyanese authorities must pay out these huge sums to local jockeys. However, we feel that something must be done and soon to uplift the standards of local racing so that in the end not only jockeys will benefit but the entire racing fraternity.

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