Horse racing’s Project Monitoring Committee intervenes in dispute with promoter and stakeholders

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – The entity set-up by Government to oversee the post divestment of the Caymanas Park race track to Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL), the Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) has intervened in the dispute between racing stakeholders and SVL.

The PMC is charged to monitor the divestment agreement with SVL to ensure compliance and to act if there are breaches.

SVL was victorious in the divestment process of the race track in 2016 and subsequently formed a subsidiary company, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) to become the promoter of horse racing in Jamaica.

The present dispute involving SVREL and stakeholders follows the decision of SVREL in a letter to stakeholders last week signalling its intention to scale down operations at the race track to four days (Mondays to Thursdays).

This the horsemen said was not viable because with no live racing, the over 1,200 horses stabled at Caymanas Park had to keep fit or suffer.

The stakeholders are also clamouring for a restart of live racing. The last race meet held on March 21.

Racing stakeholders, mostly grooms and trainers staged a demonstration last Saturday at Caymanas Park demanding the return of live racing saying that they were under severe stress and could not cope any longer with not earning.

The PMC under the chairmanship of Danville Walker met on Monday last and following its deliberations issued a letter to SVREL.

In its letter, the PMC recommended that the operations restrictions of the race track be withdrawn with the goal of resuming live racing at the earliest.

The letter in essence sought to pave the way for a return of competitive racing with recommendations also sent to the Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force.

The full letter from the PMC to SVREL is published below.

We hereby acknowledge receipt, without prejudice, of your letter dated 1 May 2020 regarding the captioned. The Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) does understand the far-reaching financial constraints affecting Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) and indeed the country as we fight against this pandemic.

While we understand and can commiserate with you and your parent entity, Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL), the recommendations to manage the issues facing the Caymanas Track must be legally and financially sound.  In the first instance the PMC is recommending that the restrictions outlined in the above-mentioned letter are withdrawn with the goal to commence live horseracing at the earliest. To that end we have engaged the Lead on the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, Mr Keith Duncan, and he has committed to support our recommendation for the resumption of racing on the following basis:

  • Medical Protocols – Like what prevails within sectors with a high traffic of persons, for example BPOs, pharmacies and supermarkets, limited number of Turfites will be allowed to enter the racetrack provided all Government protocols (temperature checks, masks, sanitization stations, sanitization programmes (cleaning of the surroundings), and social distancing etc.) are observed;
  • Revised restrictions for persons in one location – As you are aware, the current Government Order restricts the congregation of more than ten (10) persons. The PMC supports any representation to have the restriction revised for OTBs based on size of the location and accommodating social distance guidelines.

Through the Task Force, the Ministry of Health and Wellness should be engaged to formalize and provide the necessary guidelines.

Regarding the purse incentives that was raised in a previous correspondence, the PMC is recommending that SVREL meets with the Trainers and Owners and agree on an appropriate purse structure for the short term. This new arrangement will be agreed on with the understanding that ‘Purses’ will revert to what existed pre-COVID-19 when normality resumes. Thereafter, purse incentives should increase based on increased tote sales. We are requesting that the new purse arrangement is shared with the PMC and the JRC, once finalized.

The PMC notes that the annual lease payment has been made and will recommend to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MOFPS) that future annual lease payments be converted to Jamaican Dollar denomination with calculations based on a ‘weighted average’ rate using the prior year’s historical average exchange rate.  Additionally, a six months’ moratorium on payments be granted covering the period March through August 2021. Presently SVREL, by its annual payment in March at the rate of J$135.59, enjoys a tremendous exchange benefit.

Regarding other horse racing matters, the PMC can attest that the Stewards of the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) are committed to working with the Promoter, Owners, Trainers and all other stakeholders to ensure contentious issues are addressed to the mutual satisfaction of all. We can also confirm that the JRC is already in discussion with the MOFPS with regards duty concession on imported horses and will continue to follow matters to conclusion.

We hope these recommendations are amenable to you and await your feedback on same.

Yours sincerely,

_______________________________

The Hon. Danville Walker, OJ, J.P.