The NHA issued a notice to trainers which read:
As a result of growing public concerns (real or perceived) regarding the influence of Betting Operators over Trainers, the National Board of the National Horseracing Authority has agreed that with effect from 01 January 2013 the NHA intends to amend its rules so as to prohibit Trainers being sponsored by a Betting Operator, i.e. any institution that offers betting on horseracing (“the proposed amendment”).
The purpose of the proposed amendment is to protect the integrity of the sport, prevent undue influence by Betting Operators over the Trainers and ensure that conflicts of interest do not arise in relation to the duties owed by Trainers to their employers on the one hand, and their Betting Operator sponsors, on the other.
Any Trainer that has an existing contract (as at 24 May 2012), that could lead to the breach of the proposed amendment, is requested to submit a copy of their contract together with motivation as to why they should be exempt from the proposed amendment for the remaining period of their sponsorship contract.
Let’s get one thing clear, every cent that horses earn is from punters losses, taxes from winnings and sponsors. It’s either gambling or advertising that fills the pot and we are stuck with these two avenues.
The amendment that trainers may not be sponsored in future by “horse racing betting operators” because of “undue influence” they might have on a trainers is just insulting to all concerned. It presupposes criminal intent and crosses the line of precaution.
There will always be someone who thinks every horse that ran behind the winner was either pulled up by the jockey, fixed by the trainer or got to by a groom. This may apply to every horse race ever run anywhere. But if we formulate our rules by the lowest common denominator on a racecourse then we may as well hand over the rule book to the lowest standards rather than the highest, and be done with it.
How can it not occur to the NHA that if a trainer is allowed to gamble with an operator that the likelihood of undue, or even ‘due’ influence is far more likely rather than a sponsorship. A sponsorship is advertising and by definition seeks publicity through winning and its subsequent newsworthyness and goodwill.
To add insult to injury, all parties have to have licences from their respective authorities, the NHA and the Gambling Boards. Why bother licensing people for certain standards and then to proceed to treat all like prospective criminals?
It’s an insult for the NHA to stigmatise ALL the trainers in SA based on perceptions “real or perceived”. Who’s unreal perceptions? This is so flawed especially in a society supposedly built on the bedrock of some proof BEFORE guilt, or is it finally just easier to give up on integrity completely.
The amendment has done more to validate perceptions that EVERYONE could be corrupt than anything all the racecourse rumours put together.
An apology is in due to all the trainers who have at some point been sponsored or received a betting voucher on TV. I, for one, do not perceive that you were “unduly influenced” to win. Unreal!
Tony Mincione – via email