By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Come Easter Sunday, residents will witness a historic horseracing event in the British Virgin Islands.
For the first time, horses from Antigua will join those horses from the BVI and the neighbouring US Virgin Islands in six races at the Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay, Tortola.
President of the Horse Owners Association Lesmore Smith told BVI News on Wednesday that the move is to foster closer relationships with the rest of the Caribbean region as it relates to the sport.
“One of the things we have been looking at from the onset is how could we do a Caribbean integration. We talk about the Caribbean market, the Caribbean tourism product, but we never tried to explore it. And, I am the type of person who is not afraid to take a chance and see what happens,” he said.
Potential horseracing MOU?
Smith further said the territory could sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the twin-island state of Antigua & Barbuda in the foreseeable future.
“With the relationship that we have just established, there are no boundaries,” Smith said. He said apart from the comradery that will be built, the economy of participating countries will also benefit.
In the meantime, huge sums are up for grabs during these Easter Sunday races, Smith told BVI News.
“The purse for the day will be $60,000 overall,” he said. “We are talking about doubling the purse.”
The Horse Owners Association boss said, in the past, the overall purse for a one-day horseracing event has never surpassed $30,000. He said the reason for doubling that amount this year is because “it is a more festive season”.
“We have new patrons coming,” he explained.
The two horses from Antigua will join roughly 15 from St Thomas and a similar number from the BVI on the race track on April 21.
“It is expected to be an exciting day,” Smith said.
Notably, adult patrons can expect a $2 increase in the admission fee.
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