The traditional Boxing Day Horse Races will occur on Sunday, December 27, 2020, beginning at 2:30 pm at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay and it will be held under the theme, “Keeping hope and culture and faith for 2021 in the BVI alive.”
There will be three races, all roughly a mile long, with two horses competing in each, according to President of the BVI Horse Owners Association, Mr Lesmore Smith.
“We are asking the public to come out, remember social distancing, wear your masks... support us and have a good fun day,” he said.
As it relates to the purses, Smith said, for the very first time, the races will not have a set prize.
He explained, “In reality, we don’t have purses per se, we are just running to try to keep hope and culture alive, but there are no purses to say we have a purse structure. Whatever little bit we make at the gate, we will just share it among ourselves.”
“So we are asking the public to come out, the more that come out to support us and the horses are always better so we could get a little extra to feed the horses and keep hope alive.”
Smith stated that the entry fee has been reduced from $12 and $15 for adults to $10 adults and for children, $5.
Asked the reason behind the reduction of the entry fee, he said it was due to the effect of the pandemic on everyone.
“Finances are pretty tough,” he pointed out, adding that this was also the same reason why the association did not seek sponsorship even from the government.
“We want the little bit that is left in the country to be able to help the needy, and in education that we are hoping that we could get the schools open back up in January. So we want the government to use it to do those stuff instead of having to spend it into horse racing at this juncture.”
He, however, said they are welcoming donations.
In the meantime, horses from the neighbouring St. Thomas in the USVI won’t be participating this year also because of the pandemic.
Mr Smith said they were also affected by getting jockeys into the territory for the races, so they have opted to use the trainers to do the job.
“We are just trying to do a little something to entertain and be somewhere to go that would encourage sports comradery. It shows the BVI’s level of resilience; it shows that we never quit as a people. It is a sport that has lived in the BVI for decades and being a part of such sport, we don’t want it to just disappear and go away,” he reasoned.