TRINIDAD RACING: No fans, punters at ARC as racing resumes

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Champion Trinidad and Tobago trainer - John O'Brien

Horse racing is set to return at Santa Rosa Park for the first time since March 14 with a six-race card on Saturday. However, the ninth race day will look much different from any in local horse racing’s history in this country. The hundreds of punters who usually show up in the stands will not be there while the Arima Race Club (ARC) has said strict COVID-19 measures will be in effect.

Patrons will not be accommodated at race meetings until further notice but the races will be live-streamed to reach those watching online.

An ARC statement this week said betting will be accepted electronically via telephone and MBet from betting account holders.

However, while action on the field will be welcomed, there are lingering concerns about the safety of the race day. The ARC sought to allay those fears by stating, “To enable the successful staging of the race card certain stakeholders, employees, officials and service providers will be at the track.” They went further in saying, “The approved protocols for the safety of everyone and control of the spread of the coronavirus will be in place and everyone at the race track will be required to observe these protocols. Social Distancing Officers will be at the track to assist in the observance of the protocols.”

The protocols can be viewed on the ARC`s website. The Poon Tip Stud Farm Limited owned three-year-old Bella Riva, who was named as the top juvenile of 2019 at the Jetsam Awards, will race in the sixth and final race on Saturday.

The filly is unbeaten in four starts in her career and looks set for Triple Crown Honours this year.

Based on her performances in 2019 and her seasonal appearance on February 8, when she won the Royal Colours Classic, she could prove difficult to beat in the top events for the three-year-olds, this year.

Champion trainer John O’Brien will be seeking to resume his excellent run of successes which was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next weekend will see the start of the Triple Crown with the first jewel, the Guineas, running off on August 1. The middle jewel – The Midsummer Classic – being staged on Independence Day (August 31) and the final leg on Republic Day (September 24).

TRINIDAD GUARDIAN