Not to his 'liking'

Horse Racing

Not to his 'liking'

Veteran groom says shutdown disrupting life; pleads for racing's speedy return

BY RUDDY ALLEN
Observer staff reporter
ruddya@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 17, 2020

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Lee Liking, who has been grooming horses at Caymanas Park for 42 years, says that he is still struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus shutdown of the local racing industry.

Associated with winners of over 100 races, including a couple of big ones, Liking primarily makes money off of taking care of horses, and when the horses earn from their races. But with no racing taking place, he said that he is feeling the pinch as his weekly pay of grooming horses is not enough to see him through.

“This situation has hampered me a lot. I mean, without racing, it is very hard to earn a living as this is where most of the income comes from. When the horses are not running they are not earning which means you don't earn anything either.

“The pay that we as grooms are getting weekly is like nothing as that alone can't cover the bills. Is when the horses run and earn, we make a little money and that's is why we need racing to resume as soon as possible. I understand the situation, but grooms are suffering,” Liking told the Jamaica Observer.

Since the lockdown of operations at Caymanas Park on March 22, many workers have been laid off while others have seen their pay fall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This coronavirus thing is very serious and it is very dangerous as well [and] we all need to protect ourselves from it. We don't know when this thing will be over, but we need to keep safe at all times.

“We have to be grateful for what we have because it could been worse. I live in Central Village, St Catherine, and this virus has prevented me from travelling as I have to be staying at the racetrack with the horses most of the times,” he said.

Even though faced with the uphill task of survival, Liking said that he still has no regrets choosing a profession in the racing industry.

“From I was boy going to school I am involved in horseracing at Caymanas Park. I love the sport of horseracing. I got my groom licence in 1978 and I won my first race with a horse named Chip Chip. Now is a bad time for racing, but I have had some good times over the years and I am still here which says a lot,” Liking said.


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