Bright kids could cause grooms shortage - White
GROOMS Association president Fabian White said an “educational revolution” under way in his organisation was a two-edged sword, sending his members’ children to universities but could also affect the quality of race horse grooms, for which Jamaica as become internationally renowned.
“There is a saying, ‘Be careful of what you ask for’, White said on the recent Grooms Day racemeet at Caymanas Park.
“We have always lobbied for the education of our members’ children which, to a great extent, has been supported by sponsors such as McKay Security Limited throughout the years.
“These sponsorships, which range from basic school to university fees, have resulted in grooms having kids enrolled at every institution you can think of in Jamaica.
“However, the flip side of this is that what we have noticed is a falloff in the quality of grooms because traditionally, racehorse grooming, was a hereditary profession, from father to son and so on, especially in the environs surrounding Caymanas Park” said White, who returned to Jamaica three years ago for his second stint as president after a seven-year spell at Woodbine racetrack in Canada.
“The sons are now in universities. What could happen, though, is that this could provide opportunities for youngsters from the Corporate Area to come to St Catherine to learn the trade instead of becoming gunmen,” he pointed out.
White said grooms’ main concerns nowadays are being formalised by way of getting payslips, a wage increase and being enrolled in a pension scheme.
“Grooms work seven days a week, no day-off, they work on public holidays without pay. Right now we are being paid $3,250 per horse, per week, after NHT and NIS deductions, and that is inadequate.
“We are the largest organisation at the track, in terms of numbers but I believe in constant negotiation. I don't believe in any strike action.”
Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited’s takeover, he said, was great for racing.
“I love to see when people want to meet with the various stakeholders. I think it is a nice takeover. From you can start paying the stakeholders on time, that is joy in my heart. It is wonderful,” he said.