Horse race culture runs deep on Colombia’s San Andres Island

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SAN ANDRES ISLAND, Colombia — There’s no racetrack on the tiny Caribbean island of San Andres, however ardour for horse racing runs deep.

Thoroughbreds prepare on gorgeous white-sand seashores and compete on a rocky path that cuts by way of the forest.

The most recent competitors pitted 7-year-old mare Time Will Inform in opposition to Black Stallion in a kilometer-long race for a $16,000 prize. Three thousand individuals turned up for final weekend’s race, which was gained by Time Will Inform, which had educated for days on the delicate sand of the seaside.

Ullis Livingston, one in every of her caretakers, stated he had slept on the mare’s secure for 3 days previous to the race as a result of he feared any person may hurt the animal, and likewise as a result of it’s what “custom dictates.”

Horse racing has an extended historical past on San Andres and its sister island of Providencia regardless of their small populations — about 60,000 mixed — and distance from the mainland, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) away.

The dual island archipelago within the western Caribbean is inhabited largely by English audio system and was as soon as a British colony, however is now a Colombian vacationer mecca filled with seaside accommodations, duty-free outlets and all-inclusive resorts.

At 69, Denis Hooker is the oldest jockey on the island. He stated San Andres has 18 racehorses, typically competing in opposition to these introduced over from Providencia.

Patrick Stephens stated that he was taught to experience by his grandfather, who used horses to hold coconuts when the island had few vehicles and solely unpaved roads. He stated locals would race and guess on their work animals.

Ultimately finer horses had been imported for the races.

The competitions was once held on the seaside. However the unfold of accommodations and vacationers made that impractical, in order that they’ve been moved to the forest path. Nonetheless, jockeys can turn into native celebrities.

“Folks right here admire me. And plenty of youngsters ask me why I don’t proceed doing this” stated Leadid de la Cruz, 44, the island’s first feminine jockey, who retired in her late 20s.

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