White, Edwards hail planned grooms' seminar
GROOMS' Association president Fabian White, along with president of the Jamaica Racehorse Trainers Association Vin Edwards, on Wednesday, told Racing Along that they are anxiously awaiting the September 3-4 McKay Security-sponsored grooms' training seminar.
Set for Courtleigh Hotel, New Kingston, St Andrew, the seminar is the first-ever formal training of race horse grooms in Jamaica, with presentations expected from Christopher Armond, racing director, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited; Edwards, White and Shantel Clarke, marketing administrator, Jamaica Racing Commission.
White, a veteran groom who has plied his trade at Woodbine, Canada's biggest racetrack, said he welcomed the seminar as the first step in the right direction because the grooms' body is the only occupational group at Caymanas Park that does not benefit from regularised training.
"Just think about it. There is a jockeys' school and a trainers' course, both run by the Jamaica Racing Commission. What about grooms?" he asked. "This should have been done a long time ago. Grooms spend the most times with horses, a strong but fragile animal worth millions - sometimes 24 hours per day."
Edwards, whose association with local racing spans more than four decades, said he has always had a soft spot for grooms.
"I am from a trade union background and I was extremely pleased when McKay Security first started the grooms' educational programme, which sponsors the children of grooms through high school. The programme had the desired effect, which was to break the back of son following grandfather, father, brother and uncle into the profession.
VOID OF QUALITY GROOMS
"Better-educated children of grooms have been entering the workforce at other levels and even university, creating a void of quality grooms, which is what this new programme will now only address, but in a more structured way," Edwards explained.
The two-day seminar will formalise the training of 35 stable hands from communities in the vicinity of Caymanas Park. Their introduction to the official grooms' cohort is expected to alleviate a shortage, which has resulted in one groom being assigned to multiple horses.
"This is the last part of their training before becoming licensed grooms," said Jason McKay, chief executive officer, McKay Security.
"The presenters are drawn from the industry. We're working towards establishing best practices for grooms," who, my guards especially, have to interact with every hour on the hour. It is a possibility that this course could be offered to all grooms annually in order to ensure certain standards," he added.