Grooms appeal for dialogue
Grooms at Caymanas Park have expressed displeasure with how an intention to limit access to the Gregory Park entrance of the racetrack was relayed by the security administration of the new horse racing promoting company.
Grooms' president Fabian White said he was taken aback by a notice indicating that the Gregory Park entrance of the Portmore, St Catherine, racetrack would only be accessible between the hours of five to 10 a.m. daily.
White said this was done with no prior discussion, nor did the decision take into consideration that majority of his members are from the volatile Gregory Park area where a torrid gang war is being waged.
THREAT TO GROOMS
"Yes, the track open at 5 a.m. for horses to start galloping, but grooms have to leave dem homes before five to get horses ready. Fi walk an additional quarter-mile to Meadowvale entrance, mean dem would have to leave earlier and walk longer in the dark in a very dangerous area."
White said he had to take his grouse to Paul Hoo, chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL).
"First, Mr Hoo is a horseman, unlike the new security man, so him how everything work, plus Mr Hoo is a good man because when I tell him what was happening, him seh di likkle gate must still stay open, suh groom can come an guh.
"What I neva like is that the new security man neva even have a meeting with us to discuss it, dem just send out a notice, a seh it haffi lock. Dis new security man need fi know seh track run through reasoning, meetings and discussion. Man nuh jus fling tings pan man ova yah so. Wi reason it out first," he said.
Brando Hayden, chief executive officer, SVREL, told The Gleaner there might have been a misunderstanding, pointing out that the pedestrian gate, which also allows access to pedal cyclists, a popular mode of transport for grooms, would remain open and overseen by "a roving guard".
"Changes are being made as we seek to increase efficiency across all areas. We do appreciate the concerns of all stakeholders, trainer and grooms included. The gate that allows for bicycle and pedestrian traffic will not be affected. A roving guard will also be in the area. We don't want people to feel unsecure," he pointed out.
The gate that will be closed is the one that allows vehicular traffic, so there won't be anybody manning that gate. After exercise period, there is hardly anyone driving through that gate, so that will be closed and reopened at five the next morning.
"Even if someone is driving, it makes little difference to entering from Meadowvale," he added.
Meanwhile, Vin Edwards, president of the trainers' association, backed White's concerns with how the notice was relayed, adding that he has noticed a decline in security presence in the stable area.
"We all know what is happening in Gregory Park, The Sunday Gleaner said it all today, plus I am sure Mr Hoo knows how many persons have been killed on the compound in the past, so they have to be very careful of how they go about security matters affecting people on the ground," he said.