Horse racing is surprisingly popular on the Caribbean islands, where there is sufficient flat land to build a race track and even on some where there isn’t.
Like many sports it is seen as an opportunity for a party and the crowd is enthusiastic, even if not particularly knowledgeable, although never underestimate the locals when it comes to betting. In Bridgetown there has been horse racing on the Garrison Savannah since 1845 and the Barbados Turf Club was established in 1905. The track is a 6-furlong oval grass strip with the horses running in a clockwise direction. The Grandstand gives you a good vantage point because it is elevated, but anywhere around the track is good to watch the racing, and you can get right up close to the action by the parade ring, the finish line or when the jockeys make their way to the weighing room. The betting booths and food and drink stalls are never far away and there is entertainment from 1300-1800.
The most prestigious event of the year is the Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup, a thoroughbred race run annually in late February/early March since 1982 and sponsored by Sandy Lane since 1997. The Gold Cup attracts racehorse owners from around the world. There are crowds, stalls, noise, merriment and lots of entertainment from dancers to regimental bands. Nine races are held on the day with the most important being the penultimate one that is run over a distance of 1800 m (8.95 furlongs). All the excitement builds up to see who will win the gold trophy, usually presented to the winner by the Prime Minister of Barbados. At other times of the year, race meetings are held on Saturday afternoons during three seasons: January-April, May-August and October-December.