By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua Turf Club (ATC), Neil Cochranedefended the body against criticism over its extended hiatus which predates the arrival of the Covid-19 virus here in March 2020.
Speaking on sports show Good Morning Jojo, Cochrane acknowledged that it had been more than two years since the body had held races at Cassada Garden Racecourse, but added that the many issues that plague installation are well documented.
“The main thing that held us back and, let’s be clear, is having the sand if you enjoy, even island-wide. Our source of sand is Barbuda and if you check all sand sources right now against Barbuda you will get the feedback that it has been a bit difficult to extract sand from Barbuda at the moment,” he said. -he declares.
“We would have made a deposit on our sand since May last year. We haven’t been able to get it yet [because] there have been misunderstandings between us and the board. Everything is now, I believe, clear, so we are expecting a thousand tonnes of sand,” he added.
The condition of the track’s surface was examined under a microscope in 2019, while rotting wood that formed part of the rails around the track had also been a source of concern for the club.
Cochrane said while the pandemic has caused further delays in the sport’s competitive return, it has also brought about some positives.
“You couldn’t have raced during the pandemic, so we haven’t tried to race outside of saying, look, the government, we’re ready to race, so can we get permission to race? We never got that permission,” he said.
“However, when we look at the general scheme of things, one of the constant demands is funding and financing which we are doing quite well with because of the pandemic and we have received funds to enable us to buy new rails, to buy a race track conditioner that is really helping us right now and to be able to do and line up other things while we get the new design ready with the engineers and everyone,” Cochrane added.
The Turf Club was forced to postpone the return to racing scheduled for last Sunday after ongoing works at the site were delayed for a number of reasons. They have set a new date of February 27 for the organization of the meeting.