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The sport of kings needs collective responsibility

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

One of the major issues confronting our country is the role each of us play in contributing to its growth and development.

At some point in time, the challenge that will confront us is whether we want to get into the game or continue to be armchair jockeys second-guessing every decision that was taken. The latter is a role that many individuals prefer because it allows them to sit aloof on the issue and pass judgement.

When one gets into the action, however, it is only then that the true magnitude of the challenge can be understood. How one deals with the challenge will define their character. It can build your character and allow it to shine, or it can cause your true colours to rise to the forefront, or it can have no impact at all.

The local horse-racing industry continues to be buffeted by internal and external forces and to inflict self-originated blows upon itself at almost every turn. Those of us who tuned in on Saturday night to the post Kentucky Derby news conference must have been shocked to see the Prime Minister of St Lucia sitting at the head table alongside the great Bob Baffert, Mike Smith and the four groups that comprise the owners of the exceptional Justify, who had just won the Kentucky Derby.

That he was there at the invitation of Teo Ah King, the primary owner of China Horse Club International speaks volumes. China Horse Club is the entity behind the Pearl of the Caribbean project currently being developed in St Lucia. A project that many doubted would see the light of the day. Instead, a united front has been presented in St Lucia and all energies are being channelled to one common end.

Prime Minister Chastanet was even invited by Mr King to make a few brief comments and used his 30 seconds to mention the project and invite all of the viewing audience to St Lucia for the grand opening of the centre in early 2019.

This represents a missed opportunity of gargantuan proportions for T&T.

When the pioneering Derek Chin almost single-handedly staged his Caribbean Nations Racing Challenge in 2011, there were almost as many naysayers as there was applause.

Chin himself was eventually sufficiently disillusioned by the negativity in T&T to exile himself from the local sport although he remains a prominent and successful owner in Canada.

There was never to be another Nations Racing Challenge. Now St Lucia, an island with no racing pedigree of any note, is poised to become the premier racing centre in the Caribbean. A position that should rightfully have been ours.

We must blame our great ability to self-destruct through in-fighting and pettiness. The concept of collective responsibility is not understood in the sport. Maybe it is because many of our racing administrators and owners are self-made success stories and, therefore, have never had to subordinate their view to a team. Whatever the reason, when the first gates open in 2019 in St Lucia, T&T would have lost the plot.

Mr King paid us a visit last year but nothing has been heard from him since. Perhaps he was well advised to steer clear of those Trini fellas and their internal bacchanal. Someone was sure to raise an objection to any plan that was put forward.

In T&T, we have a situation in which majority decisions taken at the board level are challenged in the public domain by dissenting directors and the first inclination is to resign when unable to get our own way.


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