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After 19 years, No Boxing Day Horse Races @ Ellis Thomas Downs

- some say there may have been one other cancellation of a Box Day Race within the past 19 years but…
There will be no Boxing Day Races at Ellis Thomas Downs, Sea Cows Bay, Tortola this year, due to the facilities being left in ruins by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, Photo: VINO/File
Hurricanes Irma and Maria even demounted the statue of Ellis Thomas at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay, Tortola. Photo: Team of Reporters
Hurricanes Irma and Maria even demounted the statue of Ellis Thomas at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay, Tortola. Photo: Team of Reporters
The grandstands at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay were destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September. The running surface and stables were also damaged. Photo: VINO
The grandstands at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay were destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September. The running surface and stables were also damaged. Photo: VINO
SEA COWS BAY, Tortola, VI- Residents who are accustomed to the annual Boxing Day horse races each December 26 at Ellis Thomas Downs or the former Little A Racetrack are still feeling the effects of killer storms Irma and Maria.

While for many people there are other pressing concerns, such as widespread homelessness, people living in houses that leak every time it rains, job losses, many out of money in a cash only economy and business persons still not recovered from the looting of their enterprises, there are many who can still reminisce about the season’s traditions.

Sporting facilities took big Hurricane hit

Most if not all the sporting facilities in the Virgin Islands (VI) have been destroyed following the two Category 5 Hurricanes that wreaked havoc in September 2017. The famous Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay on the main island of Tortola, the government owned racetrack, has also been destroyed.

Therefore, it means no horse races on Boxing Day December 26, 2017 a Territory’s pastime. This is the first time there will be no Boxing Day horse races since the ‘new track’ then Little A, reopened for races on August Tuesday 1998. However, many local horse racing historians told our newsroom that within the past 19 years they may have been one other boxing day races cancelled, but "they will have to research the year, but they remembered an Easter race being cancelled since the new track reopened in 1998, for lack of race horses.”

Meanwhile, two race horses were reportedly killed as a direct result of the September hurricanes and some two more died after.

There is no indication as to when the racetrack will be rebuilt, which could cost millions, as stables, grandstands, stalls, restrooms, other infrastructure surrounding a modern race track and the running surface itself must be rebuilt or refurbished.

The current racetrack with its new amenities was reopened on August Tuesday 1998 to one of the biggest crowds ever some 19 years ago.

Next race day is anyone’s guess

Residents on Tortola and the sister islands are not the not only once faced with uncertainy over the next race date as the horse racing facilities in both St Thomas and St Croix in the United States Virgin Islands have also been destroyed by the powerful hurricanes, so no races there either.

One thing we know for sure is whenever Ellis Thomas Downs reopens for its first race day, post Hurricanes Irma and Maria, it could be a crowd that tops the 1998 new track reopening.

In the meantime, many of the horse owners are living in hope, that at least the USVI will get something going soon, as most of the race horses have been let loose to roam the land.

11 Responses to “After 19 years, No Boxing Day Horse Races @ Ellis Thomas Downs”

  • Welsah (25/12/2017, 18:25) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    And NO comments
  • History (25/12/2017, 19:18) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    This has been a year of first..a historic one. First time there were so many road fatalities in one year. The first time there were so many murders. First time festival was cancelled. The first time in history that two cat 5 hurricanes struck the territory. Political first time a Governor use his powers to take millions of dollars from our coffers and there are so many first. Can someone else add to this list?
  • Horseman (25/12/2017, 19:23) Like (14) Dislike (2) Reply
    It's now time to start the industry as a professional sports and not just recreation whenever August and December come the hurricane put us in right place, start it over right and proper this time. VIHRC (the Commission) with legislation for Wagering and Perimuterals. Long awaiting, Irma is blessing in disguise for our whole territory, we just got to wake up and see it. New Racing facility is needed.
  • one eye (25/12/2017, 21:50) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
    We need a new committee
    • @ one eye (26/12/2017, 06:55) Like (3) Dislike (6) Reply
      I agree as from time funny man wrote to keep the current president in power everything became political, so he help killed the sports before Irma BAM
  • improvise (26/12/2017, 06:21) Like (1) Dislike (10) Reply
    look at all those stray dogs and other animals or self owned animals could have been used
    Dog race sheep or goat race etc. think about this all so excited
    • - (26/12/2017, 09:36) Like (4) Dislike (13) Reply
      @improvised, shut your trap about stray animals. The stray animals is already going through a tough time. Gooddddd their is no horse race. Hope they never bring horse racing back to the BVI.
  • key (26/12/2017, 07:06) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    very good piece as usual VINO, only your news paper doing local research
  • four eyes (26/12/2017, 08:33) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    If the Downs were insured there wouldn't be a problem. Treat it as an investment, not a cash cow going forward.
    • @ four eyes (26/12/2017, 13:58) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      look administration complex insured and they cant get paid on it...so what's the difference
  • LOL (26/12/2017, 20:41) Like (2) Dislike (5) Reply
    No fashion show for them let them where them blend home now


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