Flashback: Marc Arjoon, fourth from left, the nephew of Andre and Nigel Baptiste owners of Whisper Light, who won the President’s Cup (GR111) for 3 YO & Over Horses, receives the Norman Gabriel Trophy. From left is Nigel Mark Baptiste, Glenn Mendez, Andre Errol Baptiste Andrew Gabriel, second from right, and Peter Acham, president of Arima Race Club, right.

With all sports in T&T halted as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, horse racing was not been spared. It is known that for the past decade the “Sport of Kings” has been going through very tough times and the coronavirus has done nothing but worsened the situation.

However, former champion trainer Glenn Mendez has praised the owners of horses in T&T. He made it clear when speaking with the Guardian Media yesterday, saying: “We must have the best owners in the world. They have been bearing the brunt financially for quite some time, even before COVID-19. Our owners have been very understanding and have stood their ground in the Sport of Kings.”

Some trainers have demonstrated that they will navigate the course and Mendez definitely is one of them.

Mendez said, “Basically, we are making the best of the situation. The track has been opened for three days for the week and the pool was opened for two days. However, we had a problem, in that, the track was not being maintained. That meant that all the horses were able to do were trot and canter because there was no watering or raking in the early stages.

“However, we were very fortunate that there were no problems with feed or shaving as that service has been solid. In the early, many riders opted to stay at home and all the offices were closed at the facility. One thing that is noticeable is that many horses have been sent to the farm.

“From my stable, six horses have gone to the farm and one of the top owners Merlin Samlalsingh has retired two of his horses, the 2018 Derby winner Cape Canaveral and the talented once raced The Warrior. That was a blow to the stable as I thought that The Warrior would have developed into a top class three-year-old but such is the racing game.”

The shrewd two-time ‘Triple Crown’ training winner said that now was perfect to try and develop his three-year-olds.

“I think that this time is the time for the developing three-year-olds to go to the track instead of going to the farm. Starting this week, the Arima Race Club (ARC), we can have one day more on the track for training. The trainers have worked out an agreement with the ARC to bear a portion of the club’s cost for watering and raking of the track. That track was not ideal but with watering and raking it may well be more ideal for the thoroughbreds. However, the watering and raking will take place on a morning and not the evening before.

“The jockeys are now returning but we need to get the horse population back up as we are now in a difficult place with the dwindling horse population. We must have an injection of cash which will give racing some life once again. There is a shortage of funds and the stakes owed to owners must be paid to start up the industry once again.

“The ARC and the Betting Levy Board (BLB) must get money to pay our owners who have been very patient. That is the only way the owners will be able to restock. Between the BLB, the TTRA (T&T Racing Authority) and the ARC, they must find a way to do this. We need a major injection of cash.”