UNDERRATED Consultant veterinarian at Caymanas Park, Dr St Aubyn Bartlett, believes that there needs to be greater appreciation for grooms plying their trade in the racing industry. Bartlett, who was one of the main speakers at a recent one-day grooms’ seminar, which was held in Kingston through the support of McKay Security, said a lot of the grooms in the local fraternity do not have high levels of formal education and so they are least appreciated. “There are many situations with the grooms; for example, education is a major part of it, and a lot of grooms are youngsters that actually have had very weak life development,” said Bartlett. “A lot of them never get to the level of a high school and a lot of them came to the track as youngsters and have been there all the years until they become a groom, and they just pick up things around and about the horses,” he said. “They have not really been trained; and some of them are not even academically able, because some of them are unable to read and some of them are not functionally literate, and so they have a lot issues,” Bartlett added, while bemoaning that grooms are the most underrated members of the horse racing profession. “They are underrated because they are the least educated and are the least in terms of their social mobility … the work that they do is really the dirty work and the work; that they do a lot of people don’t give any ratings,” he said. “They are underrated, they are underpaid and they are overutilised.” The seminar, which saw 35 grooms taking part, was put on by the McKay Security Company and was held at The Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston. It served to improve grooms’ professionalism and register their status as stable assistants and grooms working in the racing industry. Bartlett said his presentation was well received by the grooms and it will certainly help them to better understand their roles in the racing industry. “I think that they were very receptive to my presentation and I also indicated to them the necessity for the industry to have a training programme for them because we have training programmes for the jockeys and trainers, but we really don’t have any training programmes for the grooms,” Bartlett said. “The grooms are the ones who are with the horses all the times, and so they should know more about the horse and how they should take care of them,” Bartlett noted.