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Sense of optimism surrounds new season

Season opener: harness racing begins at Vesey Street this evening (Photograph by Nicola Muirhead/File)

The 2015-16 harness racing season officially gets under way today at the Bermuda Equestrian Centre.

The new season promises much with a number of drivers returning to the sport, participation among the junior level having spiked and a new executive now holding the reigns of the Driving Horse and Pony Club.

“For the first time in many years we have seven junior drivers racing, including one new rookie junior driver who is also a lovely young lady,” Bettina Truran, the DHPC secretary and spokeswoman, said. “We are also pleased to advise that several members that did not race last season have returned to racing this season.

“Appreciating that the harness racing season is only just beginning, this new Executive Committee has received an overwhelming support from the club’s volunteers.”

Today’s racing will take place under floodlights which had been out of commission since suffering extensive damage during Hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo, which hit the Island nearly a year ago.

“We have reason to celebrate in that we received confirmation that the lights at the track are back in working order and evening racing can once again resume,” Truran said. “The start time for Saturday night’s race has now been changed from 4pm to 6pm when hopefully the daytime heat may have subsided some.”

The racing schedule could feature as many as sixteen heats involving ponies from among five different time bars.

This year saw Suzanne Roque become the DHPC’s first female president.

The wife of veteran harness driver Eddie Roque was elected to the top post after predecessor Arnold Manders resigned at the association’s last annual general meeting.

The remainder of the new DHPC administration consists of Andy Stoneham, the vice-president, Patricia Peniston, the treasurer, and committee members Lee Raynor Jr, Robert Davis, Cameron Harris and Mark Lindo.

“I think we have a great team and are all very positive and concentrating on the future,” Roque said following her election as president. “We are looking forward to some exciting racing and seeing all of the spectators at the track. These are very exciting times.”