RACING AT THE
The Queen's Park, popularly known as the "Savannah" and perhaps even better known as the "Big Yard" - a nickname associated with horseracing originally and now with all activities taking place there, has been the foremost venue for racing events on a regular basis since 1853 when the first Grand Stand was erected.
As early as 1828, however, matches were contested there as horse riding was a healthy diversion and a fashionable pastime of many residents of Port of Spain and its environs. These ad hoe race meetings continued intermittently until 1897 when the Trinidad Turf Club was established. Thereafter, horseracing was put in its proper perspective and came to be one of the major sporting attractions staged in the savannah up to the present time. At the inaugural meeting held under this new dispensation the advertised purse for the feature event was $200. - an indication of the spectacular headway made over the decades following. With the successful promotion of racing by the Trinidad Turf Club at the Big Yard many excellent racehorses, some of them champions, vied for honours at their meetings, especially the Christmas presentations. And the competition among the riders, who incidentally added a very international flavour for a time, was no less intense and attracted large crowds.
During the war years and those following close the rivalry within the South Caribbean was lively. Racing was glamour, excitement, competition, theatre - heartbreaks and joy. Most older racegoers will remember the encounters of Ras Taffare and Sugar Lady, Pippin and Belledune, the legendary Jetsam and his Jamaican challengers Brown Bomber and Comrnando; and the sparkling performance of Zollas, Gleneagle, Ocean Pearl, Footmark, Bright Light and others.
Then dawned a new era with the likes of Aerofaith, the mighty Mentone, his stable successor Blue Sales and, of course, the illustrious Bajan creoles Pepperpot, Ferryboat and Water Lily. These were followed by the exploits of Young Turnabout, Royal Visit, Aquarius Rey Pele, Beheaded, Royal Colours to the present Renegade. Of the riders, who could forget the likes of O.P. Bennett, Steve Campbell, Sonny Holder, Abraham Joseph, Mice Lutchman holding their own in the saddle and matching the skills of Yumar, Pincay, Chappelin Harris and Gonzales of South America and Crossley, Thirkell, Yvonnet Quested, O'Neil and Durr of England and Europe to name but some of the jockeys who rode here regularly. Neither should we forget the younger generation of Caribbean riders like Chally Jones, Venice Richards, Ed De Freitas, Nolan Hajal, Emile Ramsammy, Ranjit Kissoon nor those visiting riders of world renown including Piggot, Carson, Duffield, Gillespie, Hawley and Krone who have all graced the race track at the Big Yard drawing huge crowds to witness their prowess in race riding.
Along with horse racing the Savannah catered for many other sports including football, cricket and even golf at one stage, and the Race Stand which was built in 1897 and later rebuilt in 1947 was used for viewing these activities. In addition, the Savannah is also the venue for the country's major ceremonial parades and is the main arena for celebrating the National Festival of Carnival.
Now that the years of glorious racing at the Big Yard have come to an end and the 'winds of change' have necessitated the relocation of the King of Sports to Santa Rosa, the racing fraternity, perhaps with the nostalgic pride of former generations, bids farewell to this Mecca and looks forward to the continuance of traditions handed down by the dominant Turf personalities of the past.
HOW RACING WORKS
By J. D. Cozier
It has been said that no animal species is better documented than the Thoroughbred; no other organised sport has a longer recorded history than Horse- Racing. Recognised Horse Racing has existed in Trinidad & Tobago since the early 19th century, with several organisations promoting the sport. In 1897 three of these bodies came together to form the Trinidad Turf Club, which for the next 79 years ably performed the dual role of Controller of the Industry and Promoter of racing.
In 1976, the Trinidad & Tobago Racing Authority replaced the Trinidad Turf Club as the body to regulate and control racing in Trinidad & Tobago (Registration and Licencing Body); such due primariy to the lobby of the Racehorse Owners Association, which felt that the role of Controller (Supreme Authority) and Promoter, should be separated.
For a horse to race in Trinidad & Tobago, it must first be registered with the Racing Authority, which has laid down strict requirements for Registration and are rigidly enforced. The Racing Authority maintains records literally from conception right through the racing and breeding career of a horse.
When a mare/horse is retired to the breeding shed or stud as it is commonly known, such mare/horse must be registered for stud duties with the Racing Authority, notwithstanding the fact that it was registered for racing.
There is no fee for this registration.
The normal breeding season extends from February 15 to July 15 of each year.
In September of the year in which the mare/horse went to stud, the owner of the stallion is required to submit a return to the Authority of the names of all mares bred to a specific stallion, giving the First and Final Dates on which the mare was covered. The period of gestation for mares is 11 months.
The following September the owner of the mare is required to complete a Return of Mares Form showing the outcome of the previous years’ covering of the mare which would reveal whether: -
· The mare has a live healthy foal; the mare unfortunately had a dead foal;
· The mare unfortunately did not conceive and was barren,
· Or the mare was not covered during the year
If a foal was born, it must be examined by a Veterinary Officer within four months of birth and an Identification Form completed by him showing the coat markings (colour or distinctive marks). This form along with the Stallion Covering Certificate, which will contain the actual service dates, must be lodged with the Authority, and a fee paid.
The age of all Thoroughbreds irrespective of its actual birth date is January 01 of each year, which is considered as born to northern hemisphere time - all countries north of the Equator, while September 01 is the official birth date of horses bred south of the Equator - to southern hemisphere time (eg. Japan, Australia, New Zealand).
The cut off date therefore for making of returns for stallions and mares, is September 30, and foals, November 15, of each year. After this date increased fees in form of penalties are imposed for late registration Upon turning 2 years old there are a number of things to be done as the prospective Champion enters the racing arena and possible glory. Among these requirements include: -
The all-important task of naming the colt or filly, which must be done by March 31. The criteria for Naming of Horses is explained in detail in the booklet Rules for Registration of Horses.
One example - a name must not contain more than 18 letters; Spaces are counted as letters.
In order to race a horse it must be 2 years old or older, named, blood-typed or DNA; vaccinated against Equine Influenza, Equine Rhinopneumonitis and Tetanus, as well as Identification Photographs must be lodged with the Racing Authority.
Prior to taking of entry for the all-important first introduction to racing, the owner must ensure that: -
· He has appointed a trainer in writing on the appropriate form.
· He has nominated a person with the power to sign all documents relative to entering of the horse in a race - usually by letter, or if appointing an Authorised Agent who can be given power to enter in a claiming race, or to sell the horse, then a form is completed as supplied by the Racing Authority.
· The horse-has been property schooled and gate tested, and a Starters Certificate issued by the Authority’s Starter.
If he is a first-time owner, said person must be registered with the Authority, and also register racing colours in conformity with the authorised colours and patterns prescribed by the Authority.
Entries for racing which includes the declaration of a jockey, equipment, whether the horse will run on lasix and the claiming price, if in a claiming race; in accordance with a published programme
are taken by the Stewards of the Race Club usually on a Wednesday before racing on Saturday.
In case of juveniles racing for the first time, the weights to be carried are normally set by the Club in the conditions of the race - with fillies receiving an allowance of 2 kg from the colts, pursuant
to the Rules of Racing.
There are normally three types of races for 2 year olds: -
Weight-for-age (W/A) -Weights is fixed in accordance with the Scale of W/A, depending on the month
Allotted Weight (A/W) -As fixed by the Promoter.
Handicap (H/C) -As determined by the Handicapper.
(Claiming races, introduced in 1995 are not presently framed for 2 year olds)
At this stage, the Stewards will also decide on the Day’s Programme as far as the number of races to be run; and whether any are to be divided.
On entry day, trainers are also required to ensure that they declare a Jockey to ride and state whether the horse will be wearing any equipment. In this context equipment refers to: -
Blinkers - Agarment fitted over a horse’s head with holes for the eyes and ears; one or both of the eye-holes being fitted with cowls cutting out all vision to the rear but permitting full forward vision.Hood -
Agarment similar to blinkers incorporating’ ear covers but without eye cowls.
Visor - Agarment similar to blinkers in which the cowls have holes cut in them permitting limited side or rear vision.
Eye Shield - Agarment similar to blinkers except that in place of the cowls one eye only is completely covered by a shield, or combination of Hood/Blinkers; Hood/Visor, etc.
The Racing Authority has the responsibility for providing the basic information to facilitate printing of the official race programmes for the two race Clubs in the country, which is done following the taking of entries.
All information on the horse, such as: -
Name, Colour, Sex, Owner, Trainer, Breeder, Stud where bred, Pedigree, Age and Racing Colours,
The horse’s previous seven starts, career and current record/earnings,
Past Performance placings and split times,
Jockey and equipment as declared by the Owner/Trainer or Authorised Agent is also carried in the programme.
Usually on a Thursday morning an inspection is usually carried out by the Club’s Racing Veterinarian of all horses entered to run. Saturday dawns, and the day of reckoning has finally arrived. Should anything amiss have happened between the day of final jockey declaration and race day; which has resulted in the withdrawal of the horse, the trainer (normally) is required to lodge a Veterinary Certificate with the Stewards on race day issued by the Club’s Racing Veterinarian stating the nature of ailment and treatment, which has caused the horse to be scratched.
All being well, the trainer will weigh out the rider about 30 minutes before the race with the Clerk of Scales, prior to saddling up and going off to the start.
Equipment as declared, namely Hood, Blinkers, Visor, etc., must be worn by the horse on leaving the Parade Ring on its way to the start and during the race, and upon failure to comply with same, the horse shall not be allowed to run.
The reverse also applies, in that if a horse is not declared to run with equipment, it must not be worn at any time to the start, and if wearing same shall not be allowed to run.
If a horse has run in breach of this Rule, the horse shall, upon an objection being lodged be disqualified by the Stewards, the trainer is fined $500.00, and matter referred to the Authority for any further action if necessary. Once the horses arrive at the starting point, the Jockeys will place themselves under the control of the Starter, who from that moment until he starts the race is in sole command. The horses are lined up in the Starting gate according to the draw for Post Positions as done by the Stewards.
The Starter has the right to discipline any jockey who disobeys his instructions at the gate. At the Starting gate, The Starter or his authorised substitute (usually his Assistant) will call the roll to determine that the designated horses are in fact present. He will have in his possession a list of the runners in Post Position order from the Clerk of the Scales, and will direct that the jockeys take their horses into the relevant stall, starting from the number I position nearest to the rails.
If for whatever reason a horse is unruly, the Starter has the power to remove said horse from its allotted place and place it in the outside stall so that it cannot cause danger to or prejudice the chances of the other horses and jockeys engaged in the race.
If any horse refuses to go into the stall allotted to it within a reasonable time, that horse shall be withdrawn by the Starter.
Also, in the event that the doors of any stall fail to open, the Starter shall declare a false start, should this occur and a horse has completed the course through a false start or from a void start, the owner or trainer may with the consent of the Stewards, withdraw his horse from the race.
Once the race has started the jockeys shall keep a straight course and shall not use the whip during the first one hundred and ten metres of the race. Any horse that is ridden in violation of this provision may be disqualified and the jockey punished by the Stewards.
No trainer, attendant or starter’s assistant is permitted to use a whip, substitute for a whip or any device on any horse, prior to the start while under starters orders.
Further a horse is deemed to be starting when declared to start at entry declaration stage on Wednesday and certified fit for race after the Veterinary inspection. If the top weighted horse in the race is withdrawn after this period for whatever reason there is no adjustment to the basic weights to be carried, and such stands as allotted either by the Scale of Weights, or the Handicapper.
The race is off and over within a little more than a minute. Glory to one, disappointment to others, but for them there is another day.
All being well during the race - once free of incidents, the Stewards will declare the race official by having the official light flashed on the results board, following which payments would be made to punters.
Should there be interference during the race, an objection must be lodged within five minutes after the winning rider has weighed in with the Clark of Scales.
The rider is required to complete an objection form stating reasons for same, and deposit a fee with the Clerk of Scales. The completed form is then sent to the Stewards who will order that the Objection Light on the results board be flashed next to the number of the horse against which said objection was lodged.
The Stewards in conducting their enquiry would view the film of the race and interview the jockeys involved in the alleged infraction, before deciding whether to overrule or sustain the protest.
In dealing with an objection the Stewards will be guided by the procedure to be followed on Interference, which is categorised as: -
· Taking the ground of another horse.
The procedure for determining objections is contained in the booklet, Racing Instructions and other Industry matters published by the Authority.
The Stewards must decide whether the interference was: -
· Accidental or Careless
· Foul (Reckless or Intentional)
In cases of Accidental or Careless riding the Stewards have a discretion to either order the placings to remain unaltered, if in their opinion the infraction had no effect on the result of the race, or to disqualify the offending horse. In cases of foul riding (Reckless/intentional) the horse must be disqualified, as there is no discretion.
As soon as the Stewards have deliberated on an objection and come to a decision, the appropriate official light will be flashed on the result board.
If overruled -numbers on board remain the same
If sustained -The number of horse is removed, and result altered.
Following each race it is mandatory for the winner, and at times any other horse as directed by the Stewards or the Racing Authority, to be taken to the Testing Barn at which a sample of urine is obtained.
This exercise is done under the control of the official Veterinarian appointed by the Racing Authority.
The Owner, Trainer or person duly appointed by him, and/or the groom of horse, is usually present to witness the collection of the sample, its splitting, if sufficient has been obtained, and sealing of the
receptacle, which again is done in his presence, with an appropriate identification number placed in the pouch, such number is known only to the owner or his representative, and the Authority.
The Owner, Trainer or person appointed by him and the groom, must sign the relative documents having witnessed the collection and sealing of the sample.
Following a race-day the Authority would be notified by its Analytical Chemists as to the results of analysis of the consignment of urine samples.
If a horse’s sample is positive, the Owner, Trainer and the Race Club would be notified of the Analysts findings, following which a date is fixed for holding of enquiry by the Authority, a Press Release
is also sent to the Press/Media, other race Clubs and Associations.
A horse’s sample is considered positive if it contains a prohibited substance the concentration of which is above the threshold level for that substance or matter established from time to time by the Authority.
According to the Rules of Racing Prohibited Substance” means a substance originating externally which falls in any of the categories contained in the Uniform Classification Guidelines of Foreign Substances reproduced in the rules, whether or not it is endogenous to the horse and ‘substance’ includes the metabolites of the substance.
So much for the horse from conception to maturity.
Other aspects of the racing operation include: -
The Licencing of Trainers, Jockeys, Grooms, Exercise lads, Stable lads.
Licences are renewable annually, on December 31 of each year.
The Authority sets out basic criteria to be followed in its consideration of granting New Licences
TRAINERS: - (Open/Public)
Primarily, an applicant for an Open/Public Licence will have served an apprenticeship of two years as an Assistant Trainer, and had been promised not less than five (5) horses to train.
This category applies to an individual wishing to train a horse which he owns. He must have at least 50% registered interest in at least one horse in training. To qualify for an Open Licence, the holder of a Private Licence must hold such Licence for at least 2 years.
The Authority usually (but not always) holds a Licencing Session twice annually. All applicants must have sat an Examination set by the Authority and been successful. Assistant Trainer Licences are issued to individuals whose sights are targeted as being Open Trainers in the near future.
Current Open Trainers are eligible to hire an Assistant as follows: -
Trainers with 5 - 10 horses - 1 Assistant
Trainers with more than 10 horses - 2 Assistants
Private Trainers are entitled to 1 Assistant provided he has not less than 2 years experience and have a minimum of 5 horses in training.
Trainers who employ Assistant Trainers must submit progress reports semi- annually to the Authority in June and December.
Apprentice Jockey Licences:
New applicants for Apprentice Jockey Licences must have either attended the Apprentice Jockey Training Program operated by the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority, have successfully completed the course of study, and are recommended by the Tutor of the program, or satisfied the Authority as to their competence to ride.
Apprentices qualify for a full Open Jockey’s Licence when they have ridden 60 winners or have attained the age of 28 (notwithstanding number of wins). While holding an Apprentice Licence, the rider is entitled to a weight allowance or claim from his contemporaries, depending on his status.
Allowed 3 Kg up to 20 wins.
2 Kg from 20 - 40 wins
1 Kg from 40 - 60 wins
All jockeys who wish to ride abroad must first obtain a Clearance from the Racing Authority. Under normal circumstances a Clearance will be granted once a jockey is in good standing. Good standing means that: -
· A Jockey is not under suspension
· No Enquiries for breaches of the Rules of Racing are pending.
· Have no fines outstanding.
If any of the above applies, no clearance will be issued. Basically the same conditions for granting a Clearance also applies to Trainers and Grooms.
When a jockey has ridden abroad or trainer, groom having the care of a horse abroad; he (she) must obtain a Clearance from the Turf jurisdiction in which he (she) was operating under licence, stating that he (she) left that jurisdiction in good standing, and lodge same with the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority before being permitted to ride/train or groom a horse again in Trinidad and Tobago.