AUGUST 30 – SEPTEMBER 6
Felix Coetzee sets off to Hong Kong for a nine-month contract to ride on the island. He joins Basil Marcus, who is Hong Kong’s reigning champion jockey.
Jockey Robbie Sham relocates from Natal, to base himself on the Highveld.
The minimum value of bets taken on the Natal Tote goes up from R2 to R4. Unit values of bets remains the same: 50c for Pick Six, Jackpot and PA, and R1 for trifecta, win/place and swinger bets. Apparent reason for the increase is the rising cost of processing of bets.
At Newmarket Racecourse R2.3 million worth of renovations will be made to the area underneath the main grandstand. There will be space for 2000 people, seating for 500, and ample facilities, including large TV screens. The project should be completed early in ’93.
A new bet is introduced in the Transvaal. Punters have an opportunity to forecast the first two past the post in correct order. The new Exacta bet is offered just once on the day. In the feature event Thousand Nights and Golden Man make for a pay-out of 21/1.
The British Jockey Club turns down a request by jockey Jeff Lloyd to have his 30-day riding stint extended by another 16 days. Any jockey wishing to ride in the UK for longer than 30 days would have to show that he is on a retainer, and plans to stay for an appreciable period, which was not the case with the South African champion jockey. Essex-born Lloyd’s holiday tally stands at seven wins from 34 rides.
In the Sunday Times Dave Mollet, fresh from a crusade on behalf of Transvaal bookmakers, calls for SA racing officials to take a more hostile line towards visiting overseas jockeys in return.
At regional meetings, members of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association turn out en masse (which elicits comments like “When things are going well you don’t see so many of them”). Members give wholehearted support to several new ideas put forward by the TBA’s Council. The TBA gets the go-ahead to investigate, in depth, the staging of a South African version of the US Breeders Cup. Also, new importation criteria are to be drafted to restrict importation of unraced horses (specifically yearlings), while locally the number of yearlings at the 1993 National Sales will be reduced from the usual number of 800 to 700.
Trainer Ferraris wins the Gr3 OK Trial for the second year running as Sizzling Sun comes home the winner by over 2 lengths in the 2100m race.
Also at Turffontein, bookmakers get an unexpected bonus when the on-course Tote breaks down. Punters can back horses, but not collect winnings, for over 3 hours. Many not surprisingly abandon the Tote in favour of the bookmakers, who are reported not to have had such a busy time in years.
Punters complain that bookmakers take advantage of the situation by betting at very short odds. A layer comments: “That may have been the case, but what can we do when punters take any price we put up”.
Now there’s bookmaking for you.
Mark Sutherland wins the 141st Maiden Cup, the Mauritius equivalent of the Rothmans July. The race is one of the longest on the island, run over 2400m. A racing crowd of 45.000 witnesses the Hobnob gelding Rough Rope score a 2 length victory for the Gudjadhur stable. Rough Rope starts at 10/1.
“Racetime”, the full colour magazine-style racecard produced by the Mauritius Turf Club, carries an advertisement for young Mauritians to apply to become apprentice jockeys. The advertisement carries an action photograph of horse and jockey to attract attention - the jockey in the picture is Zimbabwe-born Gordon Whyte, who was suspended for 3 months earlier in the year for not giving his mount every chance to win.
SEPTEMBER 7 – 13
The marketing of a creatine based product, Jack Point, which may significantly enhance a racehorse’s performance, leads to queries over whether it breaks Jockey Club Rules.
Similar to a creatine product used by athletes which improves muscle efficiency and recovery rate, Jack Point may add 10 lengths to a horse’s performance over 6 furlongs, according to the manufacturer.
A naturally occurring substance in animals and humans, creatine is not usually found at its optimum level in muscle, but a course of treatment will boost the level.
Developed and marketed by Triple Crown, a Chichester based subsidiary of BP, Jack Point is the equine equivalent of Ergomax, a treatment used by British athlete Linford Christie, who somewhat surprisingly won the Olympic 100m sprint in Barcelona by a wide margin.
Although allowed to be used in the Olympics, creatine may yet be classed as a prohibitive substance by the Jockey Club. The British JC has asked the Horserace Scientific Advisory Committee to investigate whether it will contravene the Rules.
Because of the fact that it is a naturally occurring substance, the use of creatine is difficult to detect or prove.
At what is described as a “top-level meeting between controllers and administrators of racing”, the Jockey Club and ARCSA co-host a gathering of JC Head Executive members and chairmen and senior racing executives of all raceclubs in South Africa.
The keynote address focuses on the dangers of fragmentation and the urgent need for more cooperation. Other speakers highlight the success of ARCSA, and how the industry has learnt the value of a more collective approach to problems, and an overview is given of the trends affecting the industry. Regional perspectives are presented by chairmen of racing authorities in the various provinces.
The meeting unanimously resolves to adapt a proposal that a National Racing Forum be created to advise the Jockey Club’s Head Executive and other interested parties on matters of national importance. There are expectations that the composition of this forum will be announced “shortly”.
The meeting also agrees that the proposed National Racing Forum will appoint smaller, specialised sub committees to investigate areas of critical concern to the industry. Findings of such sub committees will then be taken to a wider forum, although it isn’t resolved who will report to whom, how findings will be made public and how often, if at all.
Watch this space!
The R200.000 Gr3 SA Airways, run over 1200m at Turffontein and open for the first time to horses older than 3yo’s, is won in good style by Natal visitor Taban. Hot favourite at 7/10, the Home Guard colt takes up the running in the last furlong to notch up his fourth win in a row.
Also at Turffontein, the Stipes report for race 2 highlights that “Miss Wonderful tied up”.
At Doncaster, UK, the filly User Friendly scores in the last of the British classics, the St Leger. In a small field of seven, User Friendly wins by 3 lengths to collect the œ160.000 first prize. The filly had previously won the English and the Irish Oaks, and is now aimed at the Arc early in October, where she’ll meet the cream of Europe including English and Irish Derby winners Dr Devious and St Jovite.
In Melbourne, Australia, the Victoria Racing Club intensifies its efforts to attract the younger set. The club installs a hundred video game machines in a specially developed area, in an effort to attract youngsters accompanying their parents and become familiar with the track.
One of the Victoria Racing Club’s main roles is to continue educating young people about what racing’s all about, but you have to have the means to get them here in the first place, according to the VCR’s chief executive.
Attracting young blood before the stands empty altogether – an idea, perhaps, for a sub committee of the proposed new National Racing Forum in South Africa to investigate?
Victoria State’s racing administrators had been shocked after results of the first nine months of the 1991/92 season became available. At country meetings throughout the state attendance was down 10%, bookmakers turnover down 15%, and on-course betting down 18%.
Meanwhile, at another Melbourne track, the Caulfield Tabaret nears completion. The venue opens seven days a week, including racedays, and has 105 (the maximum allowed) card-and-coin machines. The Tabaret offers bar and bistro dining, as well as the services of “SportsBook” and of course TAB (Tote) itself.
The Durban Turf Club at Greyville opens the full extent of its Member’s facilities to owners and trainers – on all days other than the Rothmans July and Gold Cup meetings. The club anticipates that the new arrangements will promote better use of its Member’s facilities.
The chairman of ARCSA, Ken Palmer, expects a contract to be signed “within 3 weeks” with the British company SIS to beam SA racing into UK betting shops every Saturday of the year. SIS would contribute œ15.000 per month to receive transmissions of Transvaal racing.
The SIS deal has been through many on-off stages over a period of four years, and a half-hearted test was run in the winter of ’91/92 (there weren’t even fields and form available in the UK for the meetings).
Although up to now SA racing has left most of the press and punters in the UK stone-cold in their winter, perhaps this time the marriage has a better chance of succeeding.
The Durban based publication Winning Form, which publishes form guides for the main South African race meetings, becomes the official racecard for all racing in Zimbabwe.
A computer link between Durban and Harare makes it possible for the normal Winning Form format to be used in the printing of Zim racecards.
SEPTEMBER 14 – 20
Felix Coetzee lands the feature race at Sha Tin racetrack in Hong Kong on the very first riding day of his nine month contract.
Transvaal raider Gale Rising beats local colts Take A Walk and Eldoriza by just over a length in the R100.000 Gr3 Natal Provincial Guineas over a mile at Greyville.
At Kenilworth the R50.000 Gr3 Matchem Stakes over 1400m is won by Midnight Run, whose jockey Karl Neisius outwits the opponents by leading the way at a modest pace before setting sail in the short straight. Odds-on favourite, sprinter Signor Amigo, fails to get going in the sprint home and clearly isn’t himself.
News reports have it that Empress Club is set to leave for the US to further her racing career. Owner Jaffee states that the filly will not be sold and should ultimately return to SA when ready to go to stud.
Arazi returns to the track in France, and finishes third in the Gr3 Prix Prince d’Orange over 2000m at Longchamps. His trainer Boutin, who’s getting better with his excuses every time Arazi runs, states “He was very rusty. It wasn’t a great surprise”. And later added: “It was very windy. I wish he could have been hidden a bit more”.
Like in his stable?
Scottsville veteran steward Royce Horner (76) quits. In a statement Horner says that “the time is long overdue for members of the club to be enlightened as to the general administration of their club”. Horner claims to have encountered hostility by fellow stewards who wanted him to resign ever since he reported Clairwood Turf Club chairman Frank Jones for having an interest in a Jackpot, when he was duty steward and had to sit in on an objection. Horner claims that when he refused to resign, the Club amended its Rules by introducing a clause prohibiting a steward from remaining in office after the age of 75.
PTC chairman Pip Davies comments that the club’s stewards regret the statement issued by Mr Horner. “The stewards are entirely satisfied with the general administration of the club. They stand by all the actions that they have taken in the matter raised by Mr Horner”.
And so rolls Royce…
SEPTEMBER 21 – 27
Guillermo Figueroa gives punters nightmares with a treble at Turffontein, two legs of which come in the Jackpot. Peachy (16/1) and Dutch Legacy (33/1) have the on-course paper shredders working overtime. He completes the disaster in the last race with Chu Chulay at 10/1.
Regular readers of these columns will remember the item some months ago on the filly Desperate Woman, who was reported by the Stipes to be ‘changing legs’. After some further fruitless performances on the part of the unfortunately named filly, it will come as no surprise to read in the Stipes’ report on the first (maiden) race at the Vaal that “Desperate Woman broke down”.