Former national athlete Ahmad Imtaz Amir Hamzah had to hold back tears as he related the fate of the Perak Turf Club Equestrian and Training Centre which may be shut soon.
Imtaz, who won a silver medal at the 2015 Singapore SEA Games as part of the Show Jumping Team, said he was informed verbally of the decision on Wednesday.
“I have yet to receive the closure notice in writing but I’m preparing for the worst.
“We were told two months ago about the pending closure as funds are low, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Imtaz.
“I put in a proposal to run the centre but it was rejected as the club said they didn’t want to rent the space to individuals.
“I then put in another proposal under the Perak Equestrian Association but that too was rejected.
“We have 28 horses. Quite a number of horses are too old to be resold. We may have no choice but to put most of them to sleep.”
He added some of the horses would be returned to their owners while a couple would go back to the turf club.
The fate of 10 of its staff members is also in limbo.
Imtaz said he loves what he is doing even though he “cannot get rich” by teaching people about horses and the sport.
The equestrian centre is the only one in Perak and has been used to train the state riders for the Malaysia Games (Sukma).
“It is a passion. As a rider and former athlete, I want to do my part in building up and creating more athletes for the state,” he said.
“Several of our riders have won medals in Sukma,” said Imtaz.
He said the Perak Turf Club and Selangor Turf Club are also the only two places which conduct Retraining Techniques for Ex-Racehorses (RTR).
“We have been retraining racehorses to compete in equestrian events.
“But now what’s going to happen?” he asked.
Imtaz cannot help but wonder what happened to the plans to refurbish the centre after it was proposed as the equestrian venue for the 2017 SEA Games.
“There was a budget of RM3.5 million but I do not know what happened as the equestrian events during the SEA Games were eventually held in Putrajaya.”
Although Perak Turf Club Equestrian and Training Centre was not chosen as a SEA Games venue, it did host the EAM Masters which was one of the qualifiers in the dressage and show jumping categories for the Games.
Although members of the industry that Twentytwo13 spoke to say they have heard of the plans to close the turf club, efforts to obtain confirmation from the Perak Turf Club committee members proved futile.