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Racing debacle at Clairwood

Open Letter To Mr G Hawkins

I note form the Gold Circle website that you are the Chief Operating Officer of Gold Circle, and an Executive Director.

In this prestigious position you would have ultimate responsibility of ensuring that race days operated by Gold Circle run smoothly. On 26 January 2012 the meeting scheduled to take place at Clairwood was abandoned after a protest by jockeys. The track information released by Gold Circle indicated that the going was good with 13mm of rain recorded in the last week and none in the last 24 hours. The track report gives no indication of what is to follow, when jockeys object to riding on the track after just one race, which incidentally was up the straight.

Trainer, James Goodman,  predicts this debacle in his racing podcast which is aired on TeamG racing website. He only hopes that the debacle of the track has been sorted out. From this it is clear to me that industry insiders are well aware of the poor condition of the track.

This incident, which is the second such incident in 4 months (please note abandoned meeting of 14 September 2011) has caused much damage to the image of South African Horseracing, as the international viewers must be gobsmacked at the low levels of professionalism displayed by your organisation as lead by you.

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It beggars belief that this situation could not be picked up at an earlier inspection, rather than after the running of the first race. I would be very surprised if the track condition deteriorated in the three days prior to the meeting. If this inspection was done the meeting could have been rescheduled at another track or cancelled sooner. The sooner cancellation would have saved tens of thousands of rands of wasteful expenditure in the logistical costs incurred due this meeting being aborted. Wasteful expenditure should not be tolerated in any organisation, and the annual reports for 2009 and 2010 for Gold Circle clearly show that your organisation can least afford it, with the losses being rung up.

It would be interesting to note whether you were actually present and officiating at this aborted meeting, especially in the light of the very prestigious Cape Sales about to kick off?

Yours faithfully- Rod Mattheyse

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