If anyone had told me I could be going to Russia, I would have asked them to get their head checked.
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A new beginning
The 2018 racing season commenced two days ago ( January 1) with a nine race card that was well patronized. As the racing community looks forward to the New Racing Year, it is with equal parts, both anticipation and trepidation.
The start of the season is always full of anticipation as turfites look ahead to the threeyear- old season for the two-yearold stars of 2017 of which General JN and Dancin Deputy stood out, while at the same time eagerly awaiting the debut of the many unraced two-year-olds with heralded reputations.
Once again in 2018, as with 2017, it is highly likely that we have not seen many of the better three-year-olds yet so fans will continue to live in the anticipation.
At the same time, the return of many of the long established stars of the turf in a new season always bring its own excitement as turfites await seeing them in action.
There are a number of older creoles that promise to make those races especially competitive and we look forward to the return of the likes of Valorous, Caesar Country, Skylar and Divine Inspiration who were struck down by injury for the latter half of their three-year-old careers along with leading three-year-olds like Leading Lady and Battle Cry.
They will now match strides with the older generation of creoles led by the irrepressible Bigman in Town, Saragon and Magical Victory. Among the imported horses, Thisonesforron has established himself as the King among the crop but he is not getting any older and his progress from five to six must provide considerable encouragement to the owners of many of the other high quality imported animals that we have competing on the local shores. Among that number we can include Control Unit, Whisper Light, Conquest Bespoke and Stockyard. Then there is the possible return of Teniente Coronel at some point in the year, along with the promising younger horses such as Spoke in Yuh Wheel and Pauseforacoors, though the latter may prove best on a turf course.
All of this translates into a 2018 racing season that could be full of excitement.
At the same time, there is a lot of trepidation over the future of the local racing industry. The administrators of the sport from the Arima Race Club to the Betting Levy Board to the T&T Racing Authority need to find a better way to pool their collective wisdom in the best interests of the sport.
The industry has been through many downturns in the economy before and the solution always revolves around commitment and hard work.
Time needs to be invested in attracting sponsors to the sport and it needs to begin at the micro level and re-build its way back up to the big sponsors. Greater efforts need to be taken to clean up the sport and attract some of the long time owners who contributed significantly in years gone by.
A concerted effort is needed to attract these individuals back to the sport because their love of the game has never gone away.
Pressure needs to be placed on the political class in this country to get them to clamp down more effectively on the illegal gaming that takes place in almost every back alley of this country.
This illegal gaming is destroying not only the legal gaming such as the NLCB games and horse racing but also the social fabric of society since it is directly fuelling additional crime and also the economic fabric of the society since it is fuelling the foreign exchange black market.
It bemuses me how those in authority seem blind either intentionally or not to this scourge on our society from these foreigners who promise a lot but deliver only disaster to this country with their evil ways.
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