Horseracing is a big deal at the Garrison and it’s still one of the most popular sports on the island. Its unique racetrack lends itself to an unforgettable experience in true Barbadian style with its mix of visitors and locals. It is a social occasion for some, an opportunity to have picnics and meet with friends as they spread all around the perimeters of the track. 
2022 saw a return to a full racing calendar after a shortened 2021 racing season. In February, the track returned to normal pre-pandemic operations with full capacity attendance in enclosed areas and no restrictions for fans on the grounds. 
The star of the racing season, the Sandy Lane Gold Cup, run on the first Saturday in March did not take place for the second straight year much to the disappointment of visitors and locals. Instead on that day the Coolmore Stakes, a Grade 1 race run over 9 furlongs for the top-rated horses was the headliner. The Tanglewood Stakes, a Grade 1 race for Caribbean-bred horses, which also formed part of the Gold Cup day undercard took place later in March. The Gold Cup will return to its rightful place on the racing calendar on March 4th, 2023. 
Despite the disappointment of no Gold Cup race, the major focus then was turned to the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown is a series of three races for Caribbean -bred horses consisting of The Guineas (7.8 furlongs), Midsummer Classic (nine furlongs) and the Derby (ten furlongs). And it takes an exceptional horse to win all three legs. 
The Barbados Derby is the most important and historic race for 3-year- old Caribbean-bred horses. This is the pinnacle, even the loftiest heights for the horse, owner, trainer, jockey and breeder. A race everyone wants to win. It is the longest-running race at the Garrison Savannah. The first running took place in 1940 making it the island’s oldest classic race. Over the years the Derby has provided great excitement but there has also been drama and controversy and some very exciting finishes to add to this truly great race. 
As with any major event, the Derby has undergone some changes over the years. The major change was lengthening the distance of the race to ten furlongs ( 11⁄4 miles), from nine furlongs a true stamina test. 
In 2022 an exceptional horse named Hurricane, owned by Mrs Gay Smith and trained by Edward Walcott Jr. turned in a scintillating performance to win the Derby becoming only the 8th horse in racing history to win all three legs and achieve the status of Triple Crown winner much to the delight of hundreds of patrons. It was the third win in the classic for the owner and breeder Gay Smith following wins by Knight Rider( 2013) and Butterfly( 2017). 
The lone woman jockey Cadejah Arthur made her growing legion of young fans very excited and happy with her history- making win back in May becoming the second Barbadian woman to win a race at the Garrison Savannah following the exploits of retired jockey Sonia Perkins. 
Despite the major challenges facing horseracing after the covid-19 pandemic, new and innovative ways must be found to keep the racing product viable and a with a greater presence on the sporting landscape encompassing all media platforms .We must be positive and everyone work together with all stakeholders to ensure that the sport thrives in order to have a successful future. Don’t miss the night racing evenings at the Garrison Savannah and visit our calendar for details of racedays/nights. 
Photos by Peter Marshall