Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley has expressed his desire to have horse racing back in the territory but uncertainty remains as to whether it will return in time for the 70th Emancipation celebrations.

The recent triumph of Lesmore Smith, clinching his fourth USVI Governor’s Cup in St. Thomas, reignited discussions surrounding the future of horse racing in the BVI. Premier Wheatley, seizing the moment to address the media, openly articulated his aspiration to witness the revival of this cultural cornerstone within the territory.

However, despite the Premier’s optimism, a palpable sense of uncertainty prevails. When queried about the inclusion of horse racing in the festivities planned for the 70th Emancipation celebrations, Premier Wheatley refrained from making promises. He acknowledged the community’s yearning for the sport’s return, asserting his commitment to expedite the process “as soon as possible.”

The hiatus in BVI horse racing traces back to August 2022, marked by a contentious dispute between the BVI Government and the Ellis Thomas Downs family, proprietors of the Sea Cows Bay facility. This impasse abruptly halted decades of tradition, leaving a void in the Emancipation celebrations.

In the midst of this standoff, Smith, President of the BVI Horse Owners Association, has emerged as a beacon of hope with his proposal for a new state-of-the-art racing venue on Beef Island. However, the realization of this vision hinges on substantial financial backing from the government, which Smith amounts to approximately $2 million.

Smith also urged the Minister for Communications and Works Honourable Kye Rymer to deliver on the revival of horse racing in the BVI or risk losing his constituency at the next General Election.

Premier Wheatley, displaying receptiveness to Smith’s proposal, emphasized the necessity of inclusive consultations with all relevant stakeholders before a concrete decision can be made.