Wed | Jul 8, 2020

JRC hopes for racing next week

Published:Friday | June 5, 2020 | 12:16 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Universal Boss, with Simon Husbands aboard, on his way to winning the 11th race at Caymanas Park on Saturday, February 8, 2020.
Universal Boss, with Simon Husbands aboard, on his way to winning the 11th race at Caymanas Park on Saturday, February 8, 2020.

Acting Senior Veterinarian at the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) Dr Sophia Ramlal is confident that racing can be resumed at Caymanas Park on June 13 if the Government, by Monday, approves measures recommended by the organisation.

On Wednesday, Ramlal told The Gleaner that the proposal for a restart to horseracing in Jamaica was near completion and was expected to be submitted yesterday. She believes that if an early decision is made in their favour, they will have enough time to put the requirements in place for a resumption by next weekend.

“The proposal is almost at completion. It is to be submitted no later than tomorrow (yesterday), and then we await the Ministry of Health and Wellness for approval. The memorandum of understanding signed by stakeholders is targeting a June 13 start, and all that is dependent on is the ministry approving this protocol and the promoting company and OTB’s (Off Track Betting Parlours) putting in place all the requirements,” said Ramlal.

“So the proposal is being finalised, and it’s to be submitted very shortly, and following that, the promoters can determine if they can go ahead and put on those race meets on the dates (set) for those meets,” she added.

“But what we need is an early decision because it takes a minimum of five to seven days to ensure all the practises and protocols are in place. So we would need to know by the start of next week that we got the go-ahead, and then one could say the race meet is on the cards. But there are a lot of things that need to be in place, and we certainly need to have a decision by Monday,” Ramdal stated.

Stakeholders of the sports met on Saturday to chart the way forward, and Ramlal says that after extensive consultation, they believe that they have covered all the ground necessary for the Government to grant permission for racing to be resumed. However, she noted that the Ministry of Health and Wellness was not part of the team fashioning the protocol for approval.

Extensive Input

“The team got the input of all the occupational groups, trainers, owners, grooms, jockeys, jockey agents, promoters, regulators. It has been a process of working together, so there has been strong consultation, which is very important. The protocol is really in keeping with government requirements such as crowd control; mass gatherings; sanitisation; requirements for entry to the race track; what steps to be taken if a person is ill; what steps to be taken in managing the crowd, if that is allowed.

“So we are very much aligning with government protocol in terms of health and safety of patrons and workers. The same will apply to the OTBs as we want to ensure it’s a safe environment and that it accords with government guidelines. The challenge will be whether or not we can successfully address all the areas we have made a concern to the Ministry of Health,” she said.

Ramlal revealed that the JRC was also hoping to have spectators in the stands if they are granted permission to restart racing on June 13. However, if they are refused permission, she said they would look at getting things started with simulcast racing at OTB parlours and then see how they could make the transition to racing at Caymanas Park.