Balloting for ‘Horse of the Year’ and other awards not based on statistics by a 17-member panel comprising members of the press and Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) officials, is under way and early indications are that the 2015 derby and Diamond Mile winner SEEKING MY DREAM will be crowned ‘Horse of the Year’ by unanimous acclaim. Voting will conclude tomorrow inside the CTL Racing Office at Caymanas Park.Trained by 15-time champion Wayne DaCosta for Member of Parliament Derrick Smith, SEEKING MY DREAM enjoyed a record-breaking season. He won the two richest races on the calendar – the Cal’s Jamaica Derby in June with a purse of $7 million and the inaugural running of the Supreme Ventures Diamond Mile on December 5 which offered a record purse of $13.5 million, both with the season’s leading money-winning rider Omar Walker aboard.Having finished second in the 2000 Guineas, St Leger and CTL Invitational Mile on November 14, SEEKING MY DREAM pushed his 2015 earnings to a record $14.2 million, well clear of stable-companion PERFECT NEIGHBOUR in second with $5.1 million and Superstakes winner FRANFIELD in third with $4.9 million.Bred by Sherman Clachar and Norman Gordon, the chestnut colt by Seeking The Glory out of the 2008 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Alsafra was never worse than second in 10 starts last year – winning five races and finishing second in five as well.SEEKING MY DREAM should also be named champion three-year-old, champion middle-distance performer and champion native-bred horse.hoping for top awardsAs far as DaCosta is concerned, his horses should sweep the top awards. Speaking at Caymanas Park on New Year’s Day, the trainer said:”Seeking My Dream is unchallenged for Horse of the Year, having won the two biggest races on the calendar last year, while Perfect Neighbour who captured important races such as the Gold Cup and Harry Jackson Memorial Cup looks a cinch for first runner up, champion stayer and champion four-year-old and up”, he predicted.”The second runner-up award could be close between my horse Poker Star and the consistent grade-one campaigner Uppa Tune, but Poker Star is a safe bet for champion sprinter and Future King the obvious choice for champion two-year-old,, argued DaCosta.The Horse of the Year Committee will also choose the most improved trainer from a list of four nominees – Harry Parsard (30 wins), Donovan Plummer (19 wins), Marlon Anderson and Neive Graham with 17 wins each as well as most improved jockey from a list comprising Robert Halledeen (72 wins), Paul Francis (52), Shamaree Muir (43), Aaron Chatrie (38) and Jevanne Erwin (36).
…working to destroy stereotype of being “Indian” party – JagdeoOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo says for too long there has been rhetoric that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is a one-race party when in fact it has been working, and will continue to work, for the betterment of the entire Guyanese population.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoJagdeo, who is also the Party’s General Secretary, said that any government the PPP headed would work for all Guyanese regardless of their race, religion, or geographic location.However, he noted that its political opponents have always stereotyped the PPP as pro-Indian and the Party did not do enough to tackle or change this perception.“Stereotype exists about the PPP historically and that kept a lot of people away from us… When you take an issue of this nature and spin it in the villages that [the PPP] is a racist party and it’s an Indian party – it’s not true … Our party has made it clear that any government that we head will work for all Guyanese. We are carrying a national message for our people,” Jagdeo contended.Having recognised this deficiency, the Opposition Leader revealed that the PPP was working hard to get more Afro-Guyanese to join the Party.Presidential Candidate Irfaan Ali with African supporters“[People were told] that this is a racist, Indian party and you can’t rise up in the Party. And when Afro-Guyanese came to us, they were vilified; their names were dragged in the mud; they were called stooges, slaves and all sort of things. Not because they believed in the programme we’re pursuing. And for a long time, I don’t think we aggressively fight it, but we are doing that now,” the PPP General Secretary noted.He recalled that when the PPP was set up in 1950 to fight for independence, it was set up as a class-based party. But he noted that although it was seen as a most pro-business party, it was also viewed as the most pro-workers’ party. This, he posited, is because the Party’s policies would reflect its agenda that aimed for betterment of all Guyanese.One such policy, he pointed out, is the housing programme which the PPP started when it got into office and saw thousands of Guyanese benefiting.“When we took office, there was no housing programme, there was no ministry, no funds. By the time we left office, you had more Guyanese owning homes. Over 75,000 of the 100,000 promised house lots were given out. We’re making a promise again to go back to that – that 75 per cent of the house lots we produce – nearly 50,000 – in the next term will be under a $100,000,” he stated.Furthermore, Jagdeo reminded of other policies such as the $10,000 school grant and water and electricity subsidies. These, he stressed, did not go to PPP supporters alone but all Guyanese.To this end, the Opposition Leader noted that the Party has intensified its efforts to net more Afro-Guyanese supporters. Already, he said, they are making their case by sitting down and talking to people to show that the PPP is a national party.“I think we were deluded too to some extent that when [we] spoke on TV and give these explanations that people listened… Many people told me that from the time they saw PPP persons speaking on the television, they’ll switch the channel. Now, we’re getting the chance to interface with people directly and talking and allowing them to ask questions so you get past the stereotypes. Once we break down the stereotypes, Afro-Guyanese and most Guyanese will understand that the Party that they will have to belong to – everybody, people of every race and religion – is the PPP,” he posited.Jagdeo continued that the PPP was “the party that has a national agenda for Guyanese and that’s their natural place. And so, we’re hoping, not by bullying or anything else, but by talking, messaging and working aggressively to do that, to include [Afro-Guyanese]. It’s a deficiency and that’s why I said that, we’re working hard to correct it… A lot of them have come to us, and they’re welcome here, because they see what we stand for – for all of Guyana.”