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How to save thoroughbred breeding in Trinidad

I have been officially connected to thoroughbred racing in Trinidad for the last 78 years and November 13 was the first day I can recall that races had to be abandoned at Santa Rosa for lack of entries. One thing that is evident is: we are not doing enough or the correct thing to protect our thoroughbred breeding in Trinidad. On November 14, Jamaica auctioned over 250 yearlings at its annual yearling auction sale. We in Trinidad had our annual yearling auction sale on November 21 and we were not able to have 100 head to auction. What is the reason and are we going to stand back and let our breeding industry die? We need to immediately put certain conditions into operation to save and encourage our thoroughbred breeders’ operation. Jamaica is probably the best livestock breeding country in the tropical world and here in Trinidad we cannot compete with their horses.

Therefore we have to subsidise and protect our local breeding. In earlier years Jamaican horses were classified in E Class and before that in C Class. In the days of classification, no imported English or Ame-rican horse was classified lower than C Class, which prohibited them from challenging our T&T-bred horses. Jamaican horses were put in a higher class to protect our horses. We cannot compare our facilities to those of Jamaica. They have good pastures; pastures if found in Trinidad are generally too expensive and soon become valuable as housing projects. Now Trinidad horses have to compete with cheap American horses and cheap Jamaican horses since the advent of cheap transportation by plane.

Previously, the importation of horses from Jamaica was by ship only which cost a lot and took at least 10 days and was therefore not practical. Today we are able to fly them from Jamaica to Trinidad and it has become economically feasible to undersell our locally-produced thoroughbreds. The Jamaican horses are virtually winning and also running second and third in all of our Trinidad races. What is needed now is for Trinidad-bred horses to be given three races a day exclusively and our classic races, such as our Derby and Breeders Cup, be closed to outside opponents and open only to T&T bred animals. This is not at all difficult to do and can be done over-night. Our yearling sales are coming up and unless we get some incentive that our locally-bred horses will be protected by being allowed to race alone we can expect the yearling sales to be a flop and the future of Trinidad bred horses to go out through the window.

Steve Bennett
Curepe

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