A high quality day of horseracing on Saturday 31 March was tarnished somewhat by logistical gremlins. In a world where we are able to share a cloakroom with the most gorgeous jockey as she prepares to make history in the richest race on earth, we are still tripped up by nonsense.
The outstanding feed into our living rooms from the Meydan cameras was simply mind boggling with aerial footage complimented by side-shots and action-packed head-ons. The fact that the racing itself was top drawer stuff on the location of what is nothing less than a movie set, is secondary. The package was the shop window that could attract even the most disinterested passer-by.
The lovely thirty-six year old Canadian born Chantal Sutherland is a model, actress and a jockey and the first member of the fairer sex to ride in the Dubai World Cup. The fairytale didn’t have the ideal ending as her mount Game On Dude is still running. But who really cares? Chantal is the epitome of a golden marketing opportunity for the sport. With her own website and Haute Couture jewellery line, she lends a sense of credibility and association that we should all be riding on.
After the thrill of J&B Met day, the Dubai World Cup and Turffontein Classic Day combination was the stuff of racing enthusiasts wildest dreams. Great horses, great trainers,great jockeys. And punting opportunities galore with multiple innovative exotics over the twenty races.
Saftote’s commendable efforts to link the Meydan and Turffontein experience by means of the innovative second Turffontein jackpot with the Dubai World Cup as its climax and fourth leg was great thinking.
But basic things went wrong early that showed there is still plenty of ground to be made up. Bright ideas with products will not save the day alone.
Information is the key and the morning started with shocking incompetence . The Tabgold and Saftote websites provided comically differing track and weather information. If this is to be marketed as the ‘Brain Game’, then maybe at least one brain should be the minimum requirement of the management team behind this debacle. The less said the better and we are hoping that it was nothing more than an early April Fool’s Day joke.
The tragic accident in the Dubai Gold Cup, where the fancied Fox Hunt fractured a leg and created chaos that led to the race being abandoned after halfway, was a ghastly reminder of the realities and fragile nature of the thoroughbred racehorse. The general chaos that ensued with the speculation and rumour that the race was abandoned, then was to be re-run is not Saftote’s fault.
The uncertainty surrounding the impact on our Place Accumulator and Jackpot bets is what caused the problem. There should be no guessing as to whether fields apply or not and Phumelela betting executive Vee Moodley did clarify the issue about an hour after the event.
A problem arose also with refunds on bets on that third race with Saftote feverishly trying to create a tenth race to accommodate the Gold Cup re-run. ‘Churn’ is a huge factor in boosting betting turnovers over a day, and tying punter money up with dithering bureaucracy makes no business sense.
The Tabonline website also had its problems with Tellytrack’s Shaheen Shaw imploring punters to check their second jackpot numbers. The website was also frozen for long periods and this was as usual blamed on the ‘service provider.’ The Tabgold website also had the incorrect Meydan scratchings up earlier in the day. An unfunny joke really.
Gold Circle face a hectic Easter programme of racing with four meetings in the space of five days over the holiday period. They race on Good Friday 6 April at Greyville, Sunday 8 April at Clairwood, Monday 9th April at Clairwood and then Tuesday 10 April at Scottsville.
This programme was aggravated by the rain enforced move of the Clairwood racemeeting scheduled for today. It will now be held on Easter Monday. Speaking to the Sporting Post yesterday Gold Circle Chief Operating Officer Graeme Hawkins explained that a public holiday meeting, even though running parallel with a Western Cape feature day, was infinitely better than delaying the meeting a day or two into this week.
“ We are mindful of balancing all the considerations at play when programming meetings and while it is not ideal to have so many of our meetings so close together, and also on Easter Monday on the same afternoon as the Western Cape for instance , we have a priority to provide the racing opportunities for our owners and trainers. Betting turnover on a public holiday is also more favourable than an ordinary weekday meeting. Another consideration at this stage is that even our Scottsville meeting scheduled for Tuesday 3 April may well be in jeopardy, and that would further congest our backlog, ” he said.
One just gets the feeling that the Gold Circle KZN team really want to race. And that’s all we really want to hear.
And one last piece of trivia: How do you keep a fool in suspense?
We’ll tell you tomorrow! Enjoy the day.