April 24, 2021, was the last time horses competed against each other at Santa Rosa Park making it three months and counting that the local horse racing industry has been shut down. At this stage, it is anyone’s guess as to whether there will be any racing for the remainder of the year with the government authorities continuing to adopt an extremely conservative and risk-adverse posture.
While the fortunes of the racing industry must be of little interest to the government of the country, it is undeniable that the lack of racing is having a deleterious effect on the livelihood of the many individuals who support the industry in some form. They are certainly not unique in being in that position with those involved in many of the service sectors plus those involved in retail also suffering a similar fate.
With this almost demonical impact on the livelihood of so many individuals, it is difficult to understand the government’s unwillingness to adopt more stringent measures to ensure that citizens of the country are vaccinated.
After what seemed like interminable delays in sourcing vaccines (accompanied by dubious excuses), the availability of vaccines now appears to come up against the unwillingness of many individuals, for reasons which range from the understandable to the laughable.
Against a backdrop of available vaccines, the experience of many overseas governments has been to open up their economies while continuing to encourage/force their citizens to get vaccinated. Experience in many countries that have opened up despite the continued presence of Covid is that the death rate is primarily being seen among the unvaccinated.
It is unconscionable that the unwillingness of individuals to be vaccinated should be impacting the livelihood of those who are willing to do so. The government continues to hide their policies behind the “following the advice of science” though it must be that the science being looked at by this government is different to the science being followed by other governments, including some in the Caribbean region.
Once vaccines are available, which they currently appear to be, the government should identify their road map for opening up the economy including sports such as horse racing, and if the government is not willing to mandate vaccinations, then so be it.
Businesses and individuals will adopt their measures to protect themselves and those who are not vaccinated will have to deal with whatever consequences come their way or the way of their loved ones. The wider country has had enough. It is time for tough love if the courage to mandate vaccines is lacking.
In preparation for either tough love or great courage, the Arima Race Club needs to adopt its courage by mandating that all of those involved in the sport become vaccinated. The Club needs to get itself ready by showing to the authorities that its approach to vaccination is as robust as they come.
Individuals should not be allowed on their compound unless they have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
With vaccines now available to everyone over the age of 18, there are no longer any excuses that any eligible individual can hide behind. There remain certain groups who are being advised to not take the vaccine at this time, and that is fine, those individuals don’t need to be at the track. Trainers, jockeys, grooms, anyone working at the track MUST be vaccinated.
If the Arima Race Club can show the authorities that they have these stringent protocols in place, in addition to mask-wearing, hand washing and other safety measures, there might be a chance that the sport can resume. Even if that chance is remote, adopting these stringent policies will potentially save lives.
If the Club is not prepared to adopt tough measures of its own, there might likely be no racing for the remainder of the year. In the unlikely event that there is racing, it is unlikely to resume before September. In such an event, the Arima Race Club should be developing several contingency plans for a September and then again, an October resumption.
In either event, the Club has to consider racing every Saturday rather than the every two or three-week race days that prevailed before the latest suspension. Consideration should be given to cancelling the Triple Crown series with focus placed on staging a successful Derby, which should be pushed back to Boxing Day.
Ensuring that the three-year-old class is properly prepared for the Derby should be an objective given to the race framing committee. A similar hard look should be taken for all of the other major races on the classic calendar.
These have not been normal times for almost 16 months but there is some light with the arrival of the thousands of Sino vaccines. Having the jabs available is only half the story, however; getting the jabs into arms is the other half. If there is no mandatory vaccine requirement from the government authorities, then organizations need to take things into their own hands to get back to life.
The Arima Race Club needs to set its standards and enforce the same if it hopes to get horse racing back on track.
The Country waits. Waits and waits for a return to some form of normalcy, even though it appears that many want otherwise and horseracing is suffering as a result.