Horse Racing in Barbados
Horse racing is more than a sport in Barbados, it’s a national pastime second only to cricket. Horses have played an essential part in island life since the early 1800s. They’ve been used as pack animals, transportation, and sources of entertainment for decades. Being a former British Colony horse racing was a major part of the culture of Barbados a century ago and plays an integral in Barbadian society even today.
The History of Horse Racing on Barbados
One of the oldest tracks on the island is the Garrison Savannah. This track is located near the capitol of Bridgetown and was built in 1845. This 6 furlong oval grass track has been operation for over 170 years! During the colonial Era British military officers would often organize races here against local plantation owners. Today, visitors can see locally bred racers run against world-renown thoroughbreds throughout the season.
Horse racing on Barbados is overseen by The Barbados Turf Club (the premiere equestrian organization on the island). This club was created in 1905 as a private organization comprised of wealthy individuals with an interest in equestrian sports. The organization has morphed through time and is now the premiere equestrian regulatory body on Barbados responsible for scheduling, oversight, and regulation of horse racing on the island.
Horse Racing Seasons in Barbados
The horse racing calendar on Barbados is broken into three seasons per year:
• The Spring Season (Jan-Apr)
• The Summer Season (May-Sep)
• The Winter Season (Nov-Dec)
Generally Saturdays are the best days to see a race with races often scheduled every other weekend throughout the spring, summer, and winter seasons. (The Barbados Turf Club keeps an updated calendar of events on their website so check it often to avoid confusion.)
Each season there is one major race that eclipses all the rest. These three races comprise The Barbados Triple Crown:
• The Banks Barbados Guineas (in April)
• The Pinnacle Feeds Midsummer Creole Classic (in July)
• The United Insurance Barbados Derby (in August)
The single biggest event during the year is the Sandy Lane Gold Cup which draws racers (and spectators) from all across the Caribbean, Canada, and even the UK.
The Action and Excitement of Horse Racing in Barbados
If you think horse racing isn’t for you, think again. There’s more to do at the track than simply watch the animals run.
Food venues at the track tempt visitors with local dishes like pudding and souse, rice and stew, and fried fish washed down with fresh coconut water, beer, and rum drinks.
The grandstands cater to a more refined experience but many people prefer to go low-key, sitting near the track. Here you can enjoy a picnic lunch, pack some beer or local rums, and make a day for family and friends.
And, of course, where there are races there is betting. Whether you’re an experienced gambler or a novice attracted to the excitement of the track you could walk away with a healthy handful of cash if you pick the right animal.
For more information about horse racing in Barbados, contact the Barbados Turf Club in Bridgetown www.barbadosturfclub.org