KINGSTON, Jamaica – Fabian “Tallyman” White, who was recently re-elected as president of the Grooms’ Association of Jamaica (GAJ), said that while he is pleased with the work his orgainisation has done over the years there are still some burning issues to be dealt with going forward.
White has been president of the GAJ since returning from Canada in 2014. He was also president before migrating to Canada in 2004 where he was engaged as a full-time groom at the Woodbine racetrack in Toronto and at the Fort Erie racetrack.
“I have been president of the Grooms’ Association for around 10 years in total and it is a good feeling leading these grooms. It is a hard job. There are 500 people who are grooms and you have to try and get to everyone. You know in every organisation you have people who are going to cooperate and people who are not going to cooperate, but I can say that I have good cooperation from them [grooms] almost all of the time,” White told this publication.
Commenting on the present status and condition of grooms at Caymanas Park, White was clear as he set out the objectives of his organisation.
“The feedback I am getting from them [grooms] is yes, they appreciate the work that the association is doing but you know they want to see a little more like the wages and it still too small. The association just got them an increase for them the other day and I must say thank you to the owners and trainers for giving us the increase in a pandemic and it is well-appreciated.”
White said that there are two major issues that needed to be addressed. The first issue White said was getting all grooms at Caymanas Park licensed while ensuring that his colleagues get a day off to spend more time at home with family members.
“One of the main things that I want to see is that when it comes to every area, I want to make sure that every groom who has the responsibility of taking care of a horse at this racetrack (Caymanas Park) is licensed and this has to be done even if we have to go and look sponsorship to get it done. You have some grooms are very successful but we want to cater more for the ones that don’t earn, so that they can benefit more.
“Another important thing that I want to get done, is that I don’t want grooms to continue to work seven days a week, I want them to get a day off. In doing so, I need to organise with the trainers as well as the grooms along with members of the GAJ executive.
“All over the world, people don’t work seven days a week and so I am trying to get that done and a lot of things are presently in the pipeline but it is not easy at this time mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has affected everyone in Jamaica and we are no exception, and quite frankly, apart from the three-month lockdown last year, racing is still going and going well, and for that we have to say thanks,” White offered.
As to the relationship between his association and the promoting company, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), the grooms’ president said. “We have a good relationship with SVREL and we would like that to continue. They supported us in everything we asked for and I appreciate that a lot and, of course, we look forward to further discussions and action with respect to the welfare of grooms.”
The other members of the GAJ executive are Errol Thomas — vice-president; Dwight Lawrence — third vice-president; Kishauna Erwin — secretary; Sterling Smith — treasurer; and Dave Carty — executive member.