Harness racing hit by shortage of ponies brought on by pandemic
The Driving Horse and Pony Club of Bermuda was forced to postpone harness racing at the National Equestrian Centre at the weekend.
Club officials called off Sunday’s scheduled races because of a low turnout of ponies brought on by the latest wave of Covid-19 on island.
“We had ponies out due to quarantined people as well as some other late scratches,” Colin Mello, the DHPC president, told The Royal Gazette. “This resulted in a number of ponies that just does not support a full racecard.”
The global coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on the sport over the past two years.
Harness racing was suspended in December 2020 when a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases on the island led to a government shutdown of sporting activities.
The DHPC had hoped to resume racing by March 2021 but ultimately decided to end the 2020-21 season early in February after taking several key factors into account.
The pandemic also delayed the start of the 2021-22 season, which began on November 21 and runs until April 3.
If all goes accordingly, Mello and his fellow committee members are hoping racing will resume at Vesey Street this weekend.
“We hope to have a better pony turnout for racing to resume this Sunday,” he said.
The last round of harness racing was held on New Year’s Day, which saw gelding Simsfield Hardtimes reclaim the season’s fastest time of 1:02.1 with driver Kirista Rabain at the helm.
The Simsfield Stables-owned pony held a share of the previous season’s fastest time of 1:03 along with Mello’s gelding, War Machine and Tyler Lopes’s mare, Google Me, heading into the festive holiday event.
Before then Simsfield Hardtimes held the season’s fastest time of 1:03.2 alone having eclipsed the 1:04.3 posted by Google Me on the opening day of the season.
The overall track record stands at 1:01.1 and is held by Indiana-bred pony Google Me.