Horse racing is hot to trot in Barbados which is home to one of the oldest race tracks in the Americas - The Garrison Savannah.
Horse racing in Barbados dates back as far as 1845 when Barbados was part of the British empire. Today horse races is organised by The Barbados Turf Club and many races take place throughout the year at which race enthusiasts can witness horses at their best and history in the making.
If you don't know that much about the horses you will be treated to an electric atmosphere, good food and a flutter if you wish to indulge.
The most important races on the Barbados racing calendar are:
The Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup
The Barbados Gold Cup is a thoroughbred horse race run annually on the first Saturday in March each year since 1982. This is the most popular horse race in the Southern Caribbean with spectators coming from all over the world. Contested over a turf course at a distance of 1,800 metres, this race is open to horses, age three or older.
The large crowd are treated to top quality races - from horses that are owned by the world's leading investors in thoroughbred racing. There is delectable food to be tasted, live music to be heard, and a Gold Cup Parade to be witnessed. This is a great day out for all - there is something there for all the family.
The Barbados Triple Crown
» The Banks Barbados Guineas is the 1st leg of the local Triple Crown, and occurs in April.
» The Pinnacle Feeds Midsummer Creole Classic (GR.1R-BAR.) is the 2nd leg of the local Triple Crown, in July, and
» The United Insurance Barbados Derby (GR.1R-BAR) is the 3rd leg of the local Triple Crown in August.
Other major races on the calendar are:
» The Coolmore "Home Of Champions" Trophy (GR.1-BAR), in January and
» The Victor Chandler Trophy (GR.1-BAR) formerly the Sunset Reef Trophy in December, which are all for the best horses in the country.
The Barbados Thoroughbred Breeders' Association sponsors a series of 5 races specifically for Barbadian bred horses each year, while the island's leading jewellery establishment Diamonds International Inc., has since 2000 teamed up with the Club to promote a series of 5 races for West Indian bred 2-year-olds which is the most lucrative and esteemed programme of races for 2-year-old horses in the English speaking Caribbean.
But racing at the Garrison is not only for the race fan, it can be a day of family entertainment. Those who want to enjoy the spectacle from the stands can do so, whilst those who prefer an informal picnic atmosphere can lounge in the shade of the tall trees surrounding the track.
Families can enjoy Barbadian dishes like pudding and souse, rice and stew, fried fish and fish cakes. Quenching the thirst is not a problem with drinks ranging from refreshing coconut water to the finest Barbadian rum.
The serious punter has several options for watching the races. They can enjoy the view from the Grandstand, Field Stand, Sir John Chandler Stand or if they are lucky enough to get an invitation, to the luxurious Corporate Boxes overlooking the famous paddock bend.
Horse racing location: Garrison Savannah
Thoroughbred Horse Racing in Barbados is staged at the historic Garrison Savannah which is less than 2 miles outside the capital, Bridgetown.
It has been the home of horse racing since the colonial days of 1845. The officers of the British Regiment who were stationed in Barbados, used what was then the parade ground to match their horses in races and the wealthy merchants and planters later joined them.
The track is a 6 furlongs oval grass strip and races are run at distances of 5 furlongs (1000 meters), 5½ furlongs (1100 meters), 7.8 furlongs (1570 meters), 9 furlongs (1800 meters), 10 furlongs (2000 meters) and 11 Furlongs (2200 meters), with the horses running in a clockwise (right handed) direction.
Barbados Turf Club
The Barbados Turf Club regulates and promotes horse racing in Barbados, and was established in 1905. It organizes 3 seasons of racing per year. It holds meetings from January to April; May to August and from October to December.
Horses are handicapped according to talent. The system of handicapping is one which classifies horses from 'A1' to 'G2' class with 'A1' being the highest.