Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Hold your horses! - Parsard: Racing industry running out of time

Published:Sunday | April 26, 2020 | 12:00 AMLennox Aldred - Sunday Gleaner Writer
File Trainer Ian Parsard (right) and Peter Parsard guiding SUPERLUMINAL (Robert Halledeen) to the winners’ enclosure after the horse captured an overnight allowance race over 1800 metres at Caymanas Park.
Ian Parsard
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IT HAS been over a month since a racehorse crossed the finish line at Caymanas Park following the cancellation of racing on March 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the parish of St Catherine on lockdown due to the increasing numbers of coronavirus infections, it appears unlikely that things will be getting any better for the sport of kings anytime soon.

With each passing day, the racing promoters and occupational groups continue to take a hit because of the lack of track action.

For trainers and owners to keep and care for their animals, it is costing between $12 and $16 million per week and it is understood that come June, if things continue as they are, there is every chance of a complete shutdown of the track by Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited at Caymanas Park which is still operating six days per week.

FINGERS CROSSED

Prominent trainer Ian Parsard is one such horseman who is keeping his fingers crossed that the shutdown situation does not materialise. However, he is hoping that something will happen sooner rather than later with regard to the horse-racing industry.

“From a practical standpoint, the strongest of the strong could possibly hold on and keep horses in training until June, after June, if there is no reasonable restart in sight, I think folks will have to start making different decisions,” said Parsard.

Parsard who currently lies fourth in the trainers’ standings with 12 wins from 40 starts this season with stakes of close to $7 million, says more and more trainers will have to turn out their horses to the farms in a bid to cut back on their expenses.

“I have had to turn out 12 of my 25 horses and I would estimate that already 150 horses have been turned out.”

Parsard said he has kept his three-year-old derby prospects, colts MAHOGANY and DOUBLOE CROWN in training and so far, the horses have continued to train well but the financial impact is a real force to be reckoned with each passing day.

He added that racing would be stalled for some time if the majority of racehorses are turned out to farms as it would take a minimum of eight weeks to prepare a horse for racing once the shutdown has been lifted.

In the meantime, the Jamaica Racing Commission recently stepped in to offer some help to the occupational groups by waiving 100 per cent of licensing and registration fees for all new and existing applicants for the period May 1 to August 31 of this year.

Parsard, who is not a member of either of the trainers’ associations, rebutted claims by the United Trainers’ Association president Ryan Darby who said the latest move by the JRC was not enough.

“Times are tough and any help is of significance right now. The comments made by Ryan (Darby) were unfortunate but I know Ryan is committed to racing and the restart of racing,” added Parsard.

With no quick fix in sight and the pandemic dictating the clock, Parsard said it he is hoping that there will be some intervention by the Government and that a stimulus package can be worked out to assist the industry if and when racing gets the green light to resume.