KINGSTON, Jamaica – President of the Jamaica Jockeys’ Guild, Shane Ellis says while members of his association are grateful for the financial aid given to them by racehorse owners, their main desire is for a speedy return of competitive racing at Caymanas Park.
Due to the continued spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the island, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), the sole promoter of local racing, had to cease operations on March 22.
“It has been hard. Honestly, it has been [difficult] for the riders because we have no income coming in. Some jockeys don’t work out horses for pay, so for race not running now it is hard,” the former two-time champion jockey Ellis offered.
Ellis, who sits in fourth place on the all-time jockeys’ standing based on winners with 1,245 victories, said the hope is for horse racing at Caymanas Park to return very soon.
“This help from the owners has come at the right time, [but] we need racing to come back as we can’t depend on the owners. What are we going to do, continue asking the owners for donations?
“We can’t do that because the owners have bills to pay as well…we need racing to come back so that we can ride and earn our own money,” he said.
A proposal had been put forward by SVREL for racing to resume at Caymanas Park on June 6 without spectators, in keeping with Government guidelines and the restriction that speaks specifically to gatherings.
During the course of last week, 94 jockeys got their one-off help of $10,000 each to ease some of the hardships caused from the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, 11 jockeys’ agents received $10,000. The payments were distributed at the offices of Jamaica Racing Commission.
“We do appreciate all that the owners have done. When I had put it to Mr Carlton Watson [of Cal’s], he jumped on it right away. We had sent in the WE CARE programme, but the Government had locked off that already. I then called Mr Watson and told him what had happened as I was trying to collect up some money and give it to the lesser-income persons, and Mr Watson said okay and he had jumped on it right away.
“He called some of the owners, and from there he kept on calling other owners and they have dealt with it – and we definitely appreciate what he has done for us and all the owners, as they put together for us,” Ellis said.