THE GOVERNMENT of Trinidad and Tobago is being blamed by the stakeholders of racing for the sport being illegally conducted since the beginning of the 2013 season.
However, the promoter of racing, Arima Race Club (ARC), does not have any choice but to stage the sport, otherwise it will close down.
This has come about because the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority (TTRA), the regulator of the sport, is without a board since last November and Government has yet to appoint a new board.
One of the TTRA board's duties is to approve a provisional programme for the racedays, but when the provisional programme is not approved racing is not supposed to be staged and if anybody is hurt during the staging of racing, the ARC could be sued.
Yesterday, the Express spoke with ARC president Hugh Lee King about the issue and asked him if he is aware of the situation and why the club continues to take the risk.
"Yes, we are aware. I am not shirking responsibility and looking at whose responsibility it is to bring pressure to bear, but the onus is on David Loregnard, secretary of the TTRA. This is not the first time this has happened," said Lee King.
"We discussed it with other stakeholders at racing last Saturday and they also agreed that it is being illegally conducted and the Government is aware of the problem, but Loregnard has a duty to contact his permanent secretary (in the Ministry of Trade and Industry) about the non-appointment or extension of the board."
When asked why the club continues to stage racing, Lee King said: "We are having a board meeting today (Thursday) and we will make announcements thereafter."
Asked to respond to Lee King's comments, TTRA secretary Loregnard said: "I have continuously contacted the Ministry since December and was told, 'we do not have any official word from Cabinet'.
"They (the Ministry) have to get confirmation from Cabinet. Up to Wednesday I was in contact with the Ministry and they had no word. It is out of my hands now."
Asked how this problem could be rectified, Loregnard replied: "I do not know how it could be solved. We heard the board was reappointed, but without the instrument of appointment they cannot act. Without approval of the programme, they (the ARC) are open to litigation and it will be a brave man to take litigation against the club, because it will close down the sport."
The Express learnt that the Betting Levy Board (BLB) met with Trade and Industry Minister Vasant Bharath, last month, about the problem.
BLB chairman Kama Maharaj was out of the country, but the Express contacted Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) president Baskaran Bassawh, who is also a member of the BLB.
"Yes, it is being run illegally, and we told Minister Bharath in January of the problem," said Bassawh. "He assured us that the board will be appointed, and it was not appointed because of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections (on January 21).
"Since then I do not know if they have put something in place," Bassawh continued. "The Minister said he is going to appoint the board and in the interim they had extended the (previous) board until January 31. He told us the board was going to be appointed, but there was an objection by one of the representatives to one of the members on the new board, and I do not know if this is the reason why the board was not appointed."
In the meantime, outstanding matters continue to pile up with the TTRA. Reliable sources said the backlog will take some time to be addressed if a board is not appointed quickly.