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Harness racing to lose husband-and-wife team

All change: action from the New Year’s Day stakes races (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

Arnold Manders and his wife, Robin, will resign as president and secretary of the Driving Horse and Pony Club at the upcoming annual meeting.

According to club insiders, the pair were issued an ultimatum to resign or face a vote of no confidence by an influential group of senior members. But Manders refuted that suggestion, saying he was stepping aside to tend to other commitments.

In an e-mail issued to the club’s members, Manders revealed he and his wife’s intentions to stand down with a year remaining on their executive terms. He also revealed that Cameron Harris, the association’s vice-president, had already resigned while several other committee members have opted not to see re-election to their posts.

“It has been brought to our attention by a fellow committee member that there is a full slated committee wishing to run our 2015-16 race season,” Manders wrote.

“It has always been Robin’s and my intention to step down at the end of this season and we will be doing so. Cameron Harris resigned yesterday, effective immediately.

“Charles [Whited], Joe [Vieira], Jason [Peniston], Aaron [Sims] and Heather [Mello] have said they will not be running again, either, as they cannot commit the time needed to run the club effectively. Therefore, so far everyone other than the assistant secretary, Lindsay [Sousa], is stepping down and their positions will be available at the 2015 AGM. Lindsay has not confirmed to me as of yet her intentions.

“With all this said, no more time needs to be wasted on organising a vote of no confidence and more time can be spent on making our club even better than it already is.

“We wish the new committee well and we thank those of you who have supported us over the years and look forward a new and exciting season.”

During his term as president, Manders was instrumental in securing sponsorship for stakes races and bringing new racing ponies to the Island at cheaper costs.

However, his tenure was not all smooth sailing, perhaps the lowest point arriving during a heated row with the parent of a driver, which escalated to the point that Police had to be summoned to the scene to restore calm.

After the incident, Manders came under pressure to resign.

When contacted by this newspaper yesterday, Manders said he was resigning because he can no longer dedicate the time required to run the association due to work and family commitments as well as his duties as the Bermuda cricket coach.

“It takes a lot of work to prepare and organise the season, through the season and after the season, and I don’t have that time at the moment,” he said. “Time for someone else to take over.”

When asked about the threat of a vote of no confidence, Manders replied: “You cannot please everyone.”

However, not everyone is happy with Manders and his wife’s decision to resign.

“I appreciate what they achieved and as far as I’m concerned Arnold was one of those persons who rolled up his sleeves and did what he had to do,” David Lopes, the past DHPC president, said. “They got the work done and it’s going to be sad to see them go.”