The Man You’ll Never Know, But Should

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Christie DeBernardis

Ev­ery­one in the horse in­dus­try, rac­ing or oth­er­wise, can name that one per­son who started it all for them. The per­son who let them pet their pony, or sat them on a horse for the first time, or gave them their ini­tial race­track ex­pe­ri­ence. For me, that per­son was a man named Win­ston Trim.

My fa­ther met Win­ston 32 years ago when he went horse­back rid­ing at the Trim fam­ily ranch while on va­ca­tion in Saint Lu­cia, an East­ern Car­ribean is­land lo­cated be­tween Mar­tinique, St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines and Bar­ba­dos. At the time Win­ston was just 18 and my fa­ther was 36, but they bonded im­me­di­ately.

Af­ter watch­ing Win­ston gal­lop down the beach, stand­ing up on his horse’s back with no saddle, my fa­ther in­sisted Win­ston come back to New York with him. He rec­og­nized his ta­lent and wanted to “man­age” him.

A few weeks later Win­ston called and said he had ar­rived in Brook­lyn and the rest, as they say, is his­tory. My fa­ther got Win­ston, who had grown up around horses, a job gal­lop­ing for his long­time friend and vet­eran trainer Robert Bar­bara at Bel­mont Park.

Win­ston and my fa­ther be­came the best of friends, brothers re­ally, which made him an un­cle to me. It was Win­ston who first got me in­volved with horses by in­tro­duc­ing my fa­ther to a thor­ough­bred/quar­ter horse cross named Thun­der­bolt, who my fa­ther de­cided to buy af­ter the horse ran him into a tree and broke his thumb.

The spirited chest­nut only in­creased the bond be­tween the two friends, tak­ing them on the ride of their lives . . . lit­er­ally. Lit­tle did Win­ston know at the time that by putting that horse in my fa­ther’s life, he would chart the en­tire course of my life. My fa­ther brought me to the barn from the time I was old enough to hold up my own head, and the horse most thought was crazy, was a saint when I was on his back. Win­ston helped my fa­ther nur­ture my love of horses, and even­tu­ally rac­ing. It is be­cause of his in­flu­ence on both my fa­ther and my­self, that I’m now an ac­com­plished eques­trian with a wonderful chest­nut horse of my own and a ca­reer as a turf writer.

Un­for­tu­nately, Win­ston’s life was cut trag­i­cally short March 26 when he was killed in a motorcycle ac­ci­dent just months af­ter his 50th birth­day. He leaves be­hind three chil­dren, a lov­ing fam­ily and friends who will never be quite the same with­out him.

I’m shar­ing this story in the TDN [Thor­ough­bred Daily News] be­cause Win­ston’s in­flu­ence and sig­nif­i­cance ex­tends far be­yond my own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence. His im­pact will soon be felt in the in­ter­na­tional rac­ing com­mu­nity thanks to Teo Ah Khing and the China Horse Club.

One of the first things Win­ston said to my fa­ther when they met on that fate­ful day 32 years ago, was that Saint Lu­cia needed horse rac­ing and he was go­ing to fig­ure out how to bring it to the coun­try. If you knew Win­ston, you knew he was a man who was truly larger than life and when he set his mind to some­thing, he would not stop un­til he made it hap­pen.

Win­ston did not have any higher ed­u­ca­tion or fancy ac­co­lades, but he had spent his life study­ing horses, was a hard worker and the most de­ter­mined man I had ever known. It took him three decades, but he found a man who was equally in­no­va­tive and was not afraid to dream as big as he did. That man was Teo Ah Khing.

Win­ston reached out to Teo and ex­plained to him why Saint Lu­cia was the per­fect place for a race­track. Teo not only agreed, but found plenty of other as­pects of the is­land na­tion that would make it at­trac­tive for both the Chi­nese and the in­ter­na­tional rac­ing com­mu­nity. And with that, the Pearl of the Car­ribean was born.

The project, which will be lo­cated on 700 acres in the mostly un­de­vel­oped south­ern end of the is­land known as Vieux Fort, be­came much big­ger than even Win­ston orig­i­nally imag­ined. The race­track will in­clude top-of-the-line dirt and turf cour­ses, state-of-the-art barns, a quar­an­tine fa­cil­ity, vet­eri­nary clinic, lush pad­docks and an elab­o­rate grand­stand. In ad­di­tion to the track, the project will in­clude lux­ury re­sorts, wa­ter­front vil­las, restau­rants, a casino, shop­ping, a ma­rina for cruise ships and much more.

In ad­di­tion to de­vel­op­ing a rel­a­tively un­touched por­tion of the is­land, the Pearl of the Caribbean project will also pro­vide a ma­jor boost to Saint Lu­cia’s econ­omy and make a big im­pact on the very high unemployment rate, which is ex­cep­tion­ally prom­i­nent in the 25 to 45 age range. That was a ma­jor part of Win­ston’s vi­sion, help­ing his peo­ple and his beloved coun­try.

A ground­break­ing cer­e­mony was held at the site of the race­track in Novem­ber and thanks to Win­ston, and the tenac­ity and de­ter­mi­na­tion he passed on to me, I was one of three re­porters on the in­vite list, which in­cluded His Royal High­ness Prince Harry of Wales, as well as sev­eral in­ter­na­tional rac­ing dig­ni­taries.

As a mem­ber of the rac­ing in­dus­try, I was in awe of the mag­ni­tude of the project be­ing de­scribed to me and the painstak­ing at­ten­tion to de­tail taken to ensure its fu­ture suc­cess on a global scale. But, as the niece of the man who started it all, I was in awe of my un­cle. Watch­ing him work that week­end, hus­tling back and forth be­tween gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, the China Horse Club team, fam­ily and friends, as his life­long dream be­came a re­al­ity, I could not have been more proud.

Sadly, most peo­ple in rac­ing will never know the name Win­ston Trim. I can only hope that some of the peo­ple who will walk through the gates of Saint Lu­cia’s first race­track will have stum­bled upon this piece and re­al­ize the track’s sig­nif­i­cance be­cause it will be much more than just a rac­ing venue.

The Pearl of the Car­ribean will be a new fu­ture for an is­land of kind, hard-work­ing peo­ple, But, more than that, it will be the cul­mi­na­tion of 30 years of one man’s end­less de­ter­mi­na­tion, hard work, pa­tience, cre­ativ­ity and pas­sion. It will be the legacy of Win­ston Trim, a man who was not afraid to dream big and never let any­one dis­cour­age him.

If things re­main on sched­ule, Saint Lu­cia will host its first of­fi­cial horse race at the end of this year and I’ll be there stand­ing at the fin­ish line. When that first horse crosses the wire, I’ll look up, smile and re­mem­ber the man who made it pos­si­ble.

The man who is the rea­son I stood at the fin­ish line when Amer­i­can Pharoah be­came the first Triple Crown win­ner in 37 years and when Ar­ro­gate shattered his first record in the Travers. The man who is the rea­son I am able to put my foot in the stir­rup ev­ery morn­ing and clear my head with a good ride. The man who in­tro­duced me to the an­i­mal and the sport that be­came my pas­sion, ca­reer and life.

I hope af­ter read­ing this, some of you - es­pe­cially any­one who ends up stand­ing be­side me at that race­track - will re­mem­ber Win­ston Trim too, and, more im­por­tantly, will be in­spired to pur­sue your own dreams no mat­ter how big.

Keep on rid­ing, Win­ston. Be­cause of you, I know I will.

The above was first pub­lished in the May 26 edi­tion of the Thor­ough­bred Daily News.

Left to right: Win­ston Trim, Donita Trim and Teo Ah Khing.

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