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Publications Ban – ‘A Disgrace’

Racing desperately needs a change of attitude

The Phumelela publications ban has metastasized to the Cape, writes Tony Mincione in the Sporting Post mailbag.

Racing is dying. Tracks close, branches close, tote turnover is shrinking… and Phumelela’s answer is to put pressure on other racing publications in the name of fair competition.

Who thinks that extinguishing the last vehicles of racing information is a good idea? It is impossible to believe this is not an instruction from the top and so it is the official strategy. You may wonder how a company which has a state mandated monopoly and a R5 billion t/over decides that it’s cool to go for small independent businesses within their monopoly footprint. You would be right to wonder.

Any SA internet site or publication that is full time horseracing is done on passion. Racing is not growing, and horse racing as we know it has no idea how to cultivate new interest from the next generation.

I cannot believe that this is what people in the Western Cape want, and I can’t believe it’s what the leadership want. Fewer options is never what a customer wants. Then why would you let your management company take another step to squeeze the life out of racing? How does killing publications save or enhance the sport?

It’s a disgrace. People, you get the government you deserve and if we carry on like this then we deserve nothing less. Racing desperately needs a change of attitude because some things just have to be done for the love of the sport, or it cannot survive. Owners and punters know that often they will lose money doing this – and yet we do it anyway.

When your response is to bash or destroy things…then you have no idea what a win-win is. And banning publications is what autocrats and despots do – in other words, thugs.


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19 comments on “Publications Ban – ‘A Disgrace’”

  1. There is no forwarding thinking in this game . Unfortunately if you have management with tunnel vision, horse racing will be a dying sport.

  2. Preach.

    The Irish complain about the lack of racing and how their classics are dominated by what’s termed (albeit unfairly and kudos to them) “the Irish mafia”.
    I’m not hearing stories about the authorities closing down anyone in opposition to the status quo.
    Transparency to their punters is paramount and considering the size of fields and access to Betfair lay, back and lay off in running makes risk so much easier for even the most common layman.

    Do they even consider strong arm tactics with media ?
    Consider the recent incident where the assistant trainer in the USA was caught red handed.
    It was headline news. Not for the NEGATIVE.
    Why would the best trainer in the world have this happen?
    They had to face the music and be open about it.

    The same applies here. People are tired of dictatorial policy and brother look after brother. Nepotism is constantly talked about because there is a complete lack of transparency in the recruitment process.
    One only has to recall Super Saturday (a programme I wouldn’t miss for the life of me) and see who’s still there or been in the hierarchy for the last ten years.

    Ian Jayes as much as the hirearchy don’t like him, certainly opened my eyes and ears as to what went wrong and what is wrong with racing.
    He isn’t a bitter old man that wrote a book. He told his side of a story that wouldn’t be found by Joe Punt.
    It’s a good read in terms of what went wrong. Who sold racing and why people sold their life and souls to jump off a sinking ship onto the last lifeboat until their retirement days.

    Competition in any form is great for the industry. Watching a million dollar sales race with a field dominated by two or three sets of colours is not going to entice a single owner into the sport with the dream of a massive pay day (Illuminator aside they are long standing patrons in comparison)

    Young blood aren’t brought into the fold with pretty insignificant hashtags which in my social significance have trended less than I have.

    What made me go to the track ?

    UCT SHAWCO Rag day that was an absolute jol.

    Opening up a newspaper and reading about the clash of the midweek meeting or the battle of the weekend.
    It was the glory years (much like AC Parker writing about WP Rugby) with Sir Milner contributing and we literally couldn’t wait for the evening post to look for changes in the possible outcome of a race.

    Today I sat in JB’s corner (with free newspapers) and not one of them covered the Kenilworth meeting.
    There are media men literally rolling in their graves with events like this, where pure passion through the pen will never be the ignition of punters to come.

    A thing a former employer said to me was nothing in life is permanent, your clients, your contacts, your family, your friends and your job. He was totally right.
    You have to wake up with energy in wanting to broadcast that you’re irreplaceable and not replaceable.

    In this industry, there are very few professionals in the media that I’d say are worth a pinch of salt.
    If you’re reading this, look hard at yourselves.

    Your government survived a vote of confidence. With nine abstentions.

    If there were genuine concerned owners and trainers, without bullying, security and an open floor, then perhaps things would change.

    What appears to be the status quo, is if you don’t like it, get out or you’ll go out.

    I admire the tough. I admire the passionate. I admire people that made me open my eyes and see what the state of origin really is (to a neutral without vested interest).

    It isn’t too late to wipe the floor clean and start again but it isn’t feasible.

    Please tell me what happened to the much publicised student horse ?
    Did it ever win or place in a race ?
    Did a single one of those student members invest or become entrenched in the industry ?

    There aren’t National Emblem stories anymore. A syndication beginning and a fairy tale ongoing.

    THAT is the problem.

    Create a dream.

    Don’t throttle the opposition (it’s not McDonald’s)

    Be as open as possible ( do the other racecards publish trainer comments ?)

    Get the bone idle press off their backsides. In years past, they were escorted away by security for hiding in the bush at dawn gallops.
    These days, just a few professionals do their actual job, which is relaying pertinent information regarding wellness to the Punter.
    Andrew, Sheldon and Nadine kudos. Sporting Post exceptional work in the face of adversity.

    Robyn writes exceptional articles that capture equestrians from all spheres of the industry, often heartwarming and good feel.
    When she raises issues, she’s labeled a poison pen with an agenda against establishment.

    Every African dictatorial government I’ve known in my brief journey on this earth has been highly praised by the yes men.
    Gaddafi, Mobutu, Selassie, Obote, Amin, Ben Ali, Banda, Kaunda, Barre, Taylor, Nguema, Hare, Toure, Abacha and more current (two racing jurisdictions need I say more) all had their panderers be it Bob Astles or Farley Winston. They’re only on that ship until the days are nigh. There was no opposition media.

    In our very narrow minded African mentality can we not get it into our heads that opposing ideas are not the ideas of the enemy.
    They’re of a different opinion that want the betterment of the industry and that is the Thoroughbred beyond all else.

    The Thoroughbred outlasted Lords, Earls, Kings, Queens and Serene Royal Highnesses.
    They will and always will because they’re a hardy, rough and tough breed.

    Can we say the same for what is the status quo ?

    My non secret ballot vote in no confidence is, I don’t have it.

    Pettiness, high handedness and abuse of power deserves no place in any form of governance and industry.

    1. This is beautifully written Chris, you sum up the current scenario accurately. What we have to acknowledge is that the business people who make the decisions have no sentiment. It is all about the dollar. The survival of South African racing is not a priority. The facts are that the demise of SA racing may be beneficial to their bottom line.

  3. Racing is dying because of exorbitant take off percentages and betting taxes.
    The racing / other supremos don’t understand that to collect money you multiply two numbers, takeoff x turnover. So 90% times zero is zero and they get zero.
    In addition football betting is taking over. Gone are the days when we had racing on most days but to learn the latest Italian football results we had to wait till the next day (if we were fans of the Italian teams that is).
    About the publications I don’t know. I think what happens is the owners/unions of some publications want to close down the other publications and the authorities are sometimes sympathetic to such requests.

  4. It all starts at the totes, these cashers think they doing “you” a favour when taking bets. This is a general experience all over the country and it won’t stop until management gets educated on how not to treat customers. They never at their post before racing starts and never polite. Punters should also have the Freedom to punt and mix sporting bets with racing, that would make it more interesting in my view.

    1. Took a bet at the Turffontein Tote this morning and my comment to my husband was surely they could employ morely helpful and appreciative staff. They have no idea how the bets work and they never ever smile!!! There are people who would love to have their jobs…. well I think so. They are untrained and therefore cannot enjoy there jobs. They are bored and have no idea how to answer a question!!!

  5. Unfortunately at the time of corporatisation and the formation of Phumelela there were only two votes against. I am proud to say mine was one of them. It was amazing that successful business people could not see where the emphasis would shift and what the priorities would be. It is now in the hands of a small group of people who are not representative of the broad racing spectrum. I told Colin Dunn at the time that they will bring racing down to their size, not grow it to what it could and should be.

  6. For years we have read complaint after complaint about PGL and the complainers have done nothing to change anything.

    PGL has the backing of every shareholder. You do not have to look to far to realise that large PGL shareholders are those individuals who are extremely influencial and consist of top businessman who are in the top 100 businessman of South Africa. Unknown to most people these top businessmen are not sportsmen and are unable to understand that they should put the sport first instead of loving the sport by controlling it and making money out of it or using it for tax assistance.

    I am embarrassed to say that I am one of the complainers that has done nothing. Most of the complainers are intimidated by the wealth, status and might of these top owning PGL shareholders. I am restricted by my resources.

    Everyone thought that Larry Wainstein would be a new light and improve the lot of horse racing. In Star Wars parlance, he turned to the dark side. There is no knight in shining armour and it looks like there will never be one.

    Slowly but surely we will lose owners, trainers and race tracks. Its not hard to see that PGL’s core business is not horse racing although its needs horse racing to be its core business to keep its tote licence.

    All signs are that the major players are no longer interested in South African racing. They are now focused on lifting the african horse sickness ban imposed by the rest of the world so that they can export SA horses to the world through CTS.

    Lets me end off with a prayer. Sorry, there is nothing left to save in horse racing anymore.

    1. Gavs , You have stated many truths for which I applaud you.
      However, I shall pray and endeavour for the the continuance of the thoroughbred for the rest of my life.

  7. What racing needs an injection of new blood in the game.
    regrettably the existing hierarchy have been entrenched for too long and creativity has been lost.
    The Vee Moodleys, Clyde Basels, Graeme Hawkins and the like have been around for too long and have not transformed the game. They are secure in their positions without any fear of consequences for performance. It is the same old story, movement of members within thee circle.

    Regrettably some very poor decisions have been taken of late, on e of them being removal of knowledgeable racing personalities such as Molly and Shane.

    With the exception of the crowd attracting events such as the Rising Sun Gold Challenge, The Met, The Durban July, Queens Plate and Summer Cup, there has been no attraction of new customers. Attendance is dropping.

    Graeme Hawkins and his team should analyse the recent “Festival of Racing” concept over two days, as compared to the single day Gold Cup event.
    The success of events is largely dependent on drawing crowds.
    Do your research in bringing in numbers, partner with other events, bring in entertainers from local and abroad, create a good mix of entertainment.

    The Gold Challenge attracts sizable support from the Indian community. Obviously Rising Sun have managed to swell support for the event by their popular marketing mix. Graeme talk to these successful organisations and inject new ideas.

    Authorities, if you conduct a survey and obtain the opinion of Joe Public, you would understand their needs. Don’t remove quality. Frankly most of us are becoming disillusioned with your autocratic stance.

  8. All my years I have seen one fact over and over come to life, and this is the public who are the passionate punters being enemy number one. THERE is no transparency in racing for example horses go have all these different operations nowhere can you find this information. Jocks and trainers will say need the run horse wins by lengths, not stable money horse comes and wins. Injuries no info I mean this game is so so difficult even with all the relevant info why do they feel we will all become millionaire over night if they open with us, it’s still a long way to go to find a winner. All the info is in post race interview I knew it would take a good one to be us today, I felt who beats us will win without exaggeration Paul Peter must be the most honest transparent trainer around he is never shy to share the true state of his runners. We as punters know full well they don’t talk to horses but truth be told we been over left in the dark. but we must always hear sob stories of how the game is dying. All they want is big pools for the few privileged to eat while we walk away empty handed. My worst memories of this game is how I was told by passing jocks this horse don’t stand a chance. I say thank you and leave it out my bet, you know how the story ends. They, if didn’t feel like being honest had a decent option of keeping quiet rather than throwing me off, now where will I want to introduce new blood into the game not in this state that it’s in no way I am just be honest (Sorry)

  9. Have to tell all this story, I have my telebet account nigh on 25-30 years + and sometime ago I placed a bet on a race in Kranji (Singapore) went something like this 150 wins on horse number 1 Singapore race….. and 50 exactas straight line on nos 1 by 4 Singapore race…… The operator takes the 150 wins for the Singapore meeting and placing the bet for the exactas on the Port Elizabeth meeting in the first race which was following only 90 minutes later. When I realized that the exactas were not paid out, I contacted the call centre and the Supervisor advised me that I confirmed the bet for PE, on listening to the recording I clearly state that the exacta is for Singapore (Kranji) and advised that as I was on a cell phone I could not confirm nor deny that I heard the operator confirm the bet for PE. My argument was that they can clearly hear that I called the bet for Singapore and why then are they penalizing me as the punter for the incompetence of the operator. For the record the exacta paid +- R105-00 at 50x that is no small sum to scoff at, anyways water under the bridge and I am pleased to say that I now have a bookmakers account and can play online with very little risk of the incorrect bet been laid.
    This happened a number of years ago and I decided to make mention of it as clearly lots of preaching about the importance of the punter yet very little in the way of actual follow through on it. People talk the talk and cannot walk the walk.

    1. yikes….sounds very familiar. Why would you choose the numbers for that race is the question……The operator will always blame the client here, it is an automatic defense mechanism.

  10. Lots of moaning, complaining and even a few suggestions.
    To what end ? The Operator knows that this too shall pass and in a few weeks time this will all be forgotten and even accepted. Whether its the closing of racetracks, doing away with the Vaal sand, affecting the breeding industry, whether they using Trust funds which belong to others, or banning the Jayes’ of the world or silencing the media and banning publications, those too shall pass and soon to be ‘forgotten’. In the meantime the stakeholders and lovers of horseracing walk away or spend their money elsewhere. Does the Operator care ? Not an iota. They want to make money at any cost, whether it’s through stakes, or depriving the industry of racecourses and the experience, while they expand their license to other profit areas. They would love someone to take over the courses and stakes, and all those pesky things, while they keep the tote and expand their gambling portfolio. There is only one way to hold them to book, and that is to go the core of their license, its conditions, its exclusivity period, followed by a forensic audit, not just of its license but also the shares and compliance or otherwise of the conditions of that license.
    They have reveled in this seemingly ‘unregulated’ industry where they do as they please. The Gambling Board, Department of Trade and Industries, the Competitions Commission are where those that have the desire to do something about this corporate entity should start if they want to stop the rot. Some have there, done that, been discredited and stabbed in the back.
    Is there anyone out there left ?

    1. Nope. no one left….the RA ( Wienstein, ha ha ha yeah, looking after me as an owner…bollocks. ) and NHA are now part of the Phumela agenda. Thats sad. As a small owner, apart from the fact we all turn up on track to have a good time, I cannot tell my friends from overseas to buy here. there is an agenda that will not allow the man off the street to buy. Thank you to the John Freeman’s of this world. Phumela must explain there agenda. who are you honestly.

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