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Show Me The Money

Big value stakes – bonanza or blunder?

Stakes increase

Last week saw the announcement that the stake for the President’s Champions Challenge was being bumped up from R2 million to an astonishing R4 million. The hike makes it the highest paid Gr1 in the country, eclipsing the Queen’s Plate (R1 million), the Sansui Summer Cup (R2 million), the J&B Met (R2,5 million) and the Vodacom Durban July (R3,5 million). I’m not arguing that it’s a good race and has been won by some wonderful horses over the years, but I’m not entirely sure it merits a R4 million stake. When one considers that our calendar lists Gr1’s that are still run for R600k, it does seem a trifle bizarre.

Also, with the modern penchant for lumping as many big races into a single day as possible, the race is scheduled to be run on Champions Day, which will mean in excess of R10 million in stakes being paid out on a single race day. Great, or gruesome? Because while big prize money is all good and well, we are supposed to be a sport and last time I checked, sport was about endeavour and excellence.

Additionally, the Emperor’s Palace Charity Mile is also receiving a stakes rise from R600k to a cool R1 million, even though it’s only a Gr2. To be fair, there are a few other Gr2’s which carry a similar stake (the newly renamed SAP Supreme Cup, the Southern Cross Stakes and the Betting World Guineas), but again, there are a number of Gr2’s still being run for a R400k stake and many of those have a lot more provenance and gravitas to them.

Where’s it coming from?

Be that as it may, what makes it all even more confounding is precisely how this was agreed and by who? As there are no sponsors involved, the logical assumption is that the additional monies are coming from the stakes pot. I did attempt to find out, but as usual, it seems no-one was home at head office.

It’s a pity, as I think it’s rather important to understand our various racing bodies, how they work and their relationships with one another. Trying to work it all out does occasionally feel less like join the dots and more like an elaborate game of Twister, in the dark, after a bottle of tequila.

Essentially it boils down to the Racing Trust and the fact that they hold 35.25% or somewhere in the region of 27 million according to reports) of Phumelela shares. Now, if you’ve not heard of the Racing Trust, fear not. They rival the Freemasons for openness and transparency. I wish there was an easier answer, but what I can tell you is that the Racing Trust is a non-profit organisation stated to have as its object, “the protection and furtherance of the interests of the racing industry.” It is funded by dividends from its Phumelela shares which it allegedly distributes across the stakes pot, the Gauteng Jockeys Academy, the Gauteng Work Riders’ Programme, the informal racing sector in the Northern Cape, contributions towards research and development in respect of African Horse Sickness, and special projects such as contributions towards HIV testing of grooms.

Who is the Racing Trust?

Johann du Plessis

Johann du Plessis, Chairman of the Racing Trust

Five of its seven trustees are nominated by the Racing Association and for reasons known only unto them (I have asked), the remaining two trustees are nominated by SASCOC. As per a press release dated August last year, I can tell you that the current Chairman is one Johann du Plessis (the one and same director of Steinhoff and Klawervlei who tried to stand for a seat on the NHA Board last year). The rest of the board comprises Moutonshoek’s RA member and breeder / owner Chris Gerber as PRO, Old Mutual, Oceana Group and breeder / owner Peter de Beyer, Investec & Kenilworth Racing board member Mark Currie and British American Tobacco, Phumelela director and owner / breeder Brian Finch. And of course the two SASCOC representatives, Gideon Sam and Vinesh Maharaj. Although there are rules governing how long Racing Trust members may serve on the board (3 years at a time and no more than 3 consecutive terms of service), Gideon Sam and Vinesh Maharaj seem to have been there since God was a boy. But hey ho, time does fly when you’re having fun.

Where The Racing Association fits in

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Larry Wainstein – RA CEO

The Racing Trust folks are, understandably, a busy bunch. So much so that they have the RA handle most of their administration for them. When I approached Chairman Du Plessis for more information on this, he suggested I chat to their PRO Chris Gerber, who in turn informed me that they ‘don’t do PR.’ Alrighty then.

The monies that the Racing Trust contributes to the stakes pot are therefore administered by the Racing Association and presumably, its CEO Larry Wainstein. I did try to contact both Mr Wainstein as well as RA Chairman Mr William Nsele for clarification as early as March this year, but as with the Racing Trust, it seems they are very busy people indeed and have not managed to get back to me yet. Perhaps they also need an organisation to do their administration for them.

Next we get onto the existence of the fabled document that is our Stakes Agreement. I predict that this document will go down in history as the most closely guarded secret after the Enigma Code, but we do know that it is an agreement between Phumelela and the Racing Association and it would seem that Phumelela negotiates a portion of the Racing Trust’s dividends to use as stakes via the RA. So far so good.

The Racing Trust is a non-profit organisation and the Racing Association is also registered as a non-profit organisation. Interestingly, through an agreement with the racing operators, it is a well-publicised fact that the RA coffers receive all the nomination and acceptance fees in ‘Phumelela country’. Given that all owners are charged nomination and acceptance monies whether they are RA members or not, this is a contentious issue in some corners. Either way, it amounts to quite a hefty sum (last year this figure came to in excess of R10 million) and as the RA is non-profit, one has to wonder quite where all that money goes. But perhaps that’s a debate for another day.

More on that Stakes Agreement

Why no contracts?

Where is the Stakes Agreement?

Because the Stakes Agreement is a little tricky to get hold of, the rest has had to be gleaned from a number of different sources and by a number of different means, so I may be off on one or two points, but basically the Stakes Agreement sets out who pays for what. It seems the original, signed stakes agreement was dated 1999. This was followed by an oral agreement (perhaps that’s why the pernickety thing is so hard to pin down?) and then a New Stakes Agreement dated August 2013. I’m led to believe that the New Agreement was amended again fairly recently, which is partly why I’m so fascinated by the darn thing.

It seems that among the most recent amendments to the Stakes Agreement was an arrangement whereby it was agreed that the amount Phumelela spends on ‘putting on the show’ is to be capped. As a result of this, the costs for transporting horses to and from races (previously contractually borne by the Operator) is now being funded out of the Stakes Pot. If my research is correct, it would seem to amount to somewhere in the region of R6 million. I did try and query both Phumelela as well as the RA as to how this was agreed, by whom and whether owners had been asked or even advised, and have every confidence that they will get back to me with an answer any day now. As mentioned, they are very busy people.

How that looks in practice

Yorker

Yorker wins the 2014 President’s Champions Challenge

So then I went and pulled up the national programme and totted up our Graded Races and what they are worth and I came up with the following:-

Our national programme boasts a total of 34 Gr1 races (now worth a little over R40 million), 39 Gr2 races, 50 Gr3 races, 71 Listed races and 65 Non black type races, which, according to the National Feature Race programme, all add up to a total of R98,155,000 in available stakes. Obviously this doesn’t include non feature races. A bit of mental arithmetic brings me to a figure of a little over 3000 non feature races per year. So around 92% of our racing programme consists of non feature races. Borrowing from an interview with Rian du Plessis back in 2013, he stated that the total figure for available stakes is around R300 million. If that is correct, then we spend R100 million on 8% of our racing while R200 million is left to cover the remaining 92%.

While owners already pay a percentage of stakes to trainers and jockeys, May 2015 brought the news that owners will also be docked 1% of winnings as a contribution to grooms as of 1 June. Somehow it seems owners were not consulted in this process.

This means that in a single year we have inexplicably lost R6 million from the stakes pot for transport, we are taking a further R2,4 million out of general distribution (R2 million for the President’s Champions Challenge and another R400k for the Charity Mile) and channelling it into two individual races and then having another 1% is deducted for the grooms.

Racing facts

The SA Racing Fact Book states that there are around 7000 individual runners on an annual basis, of which around 2,500 ever win a race – that’s 30%. With only 260 feature races on the calendar, that means that only around 3% of horses will ever earn a feature race cheque in their career.

The next bit of mischief is the noms / acceptance fee story and the news that these monies should now be paid to Kenilworth Racing. Perhaps more pertinent are the facts that the 10% discount for early payment has fallen away, that the RA is threatening to suspend nominations of trainers who fall more than 60 days in arrears and my favourite bit, the fact that this was all implemented retrospectively as of 1 August – even though the official notification was dated 25 August. It’s a little like arranging lunch last Tuesday, isn’t it?

Some final figures

In summary it’s worth repeating a few figures. It costs around R100k to keep a relatively healthy horse in training per year. The law of averages dictates that the vast majority of horses out there are average at best and only 30% will ever win a race. Only 3% of horses will ever win a feature. Basic logic indicates that there are more owners with average horses than there are with champions, so it seems an odd decision to allocate such a substantial amount of cash into two races, rather than perhaps spreading it around the Gr1’s to even things up a bit, or even distributing it across the maiden ranks, which incidentally have not seen an increase for a number of years now. As a comparable example, if the additional stakes were to be redistributed across the maiden ranks in Phumelela country instead, it could have improved the stakes of 400 maiden races to R90k!

The reason given for doubling the President’s Champions Challenge stake was that it is “a true-run race where the conditions favour the best horse. So it deserves a big stake.” The motivation for upping the Charity Mile? “We felt it was time.”

I wonder what the ownership body might have chosen, had they been given a choice?

Have Your Say

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15 comments on “Show Me The Money

  1. Barry Irwin says:

    Robyn, you are such a trouble maker…and thanks to you for that. Aside from being so well written as usual, this little masterpiece sums up how much racing men and women love their sport, because nowhere else in the real world would business people put up with this utter nonsense.

  2. Warrenl says:

    Well written, I could not have said it better.
    However I am sure that these examples are only a small handful of questions that we have to ask.
    All I can put it down to is that it is our own fault for going to the RA – AGM’s Year in and year out and only to vote the same people in, to do as what they wish.

    It is a choice and those RA members that continue to support this organization , can only be blamed. Audited financial statements are presented at these meetings, yet no one questions expenditure and conflicts of interest within the RA . Why ?, – is it because we all are to busy running our own lives and the RA knows, that no one is paying attention, I often wonder .

  3. stephan says:

    hie..hie..oulik opgesom robyn..

  4. Pmb says:

    Nice article. As far as the stakes go for the big race day, my opinion is that it’s not a terrible thing.
    I think if people bought horses with the idea of winning maidens then redistributing the money among these races would be valid. We all know that buying a racehorse is throwing away money and getting an extra few grand for winning a maiden would be nice. However, the dream is to win the big ones, and making the big ones bigger enhances that.
    Yes, I wouldn’t mind winning the South African lottery but if I’m buying a ticket the Euromillions is where I’d rather be.

  5. Michael says:

    Biggest and most powerful city on South Africa needs the biggest race. The July Handicap run at Greyville is a lottery and the one thing about Turffontein is it does have a proper straight that leads to the right horse winning far more often than Greyville. Only makes sense that the stake is bigger than the July – and as PMB says, we don’t buy in to redistribute money in maiden races!

    1. Theo says:

      Agree with Michael. We all want to buy a Pierre Jourdan for R60k and win a big one. The sport is too expensive to buy a horse only because of a R5k increase in Maiden races (shared between the first 5 places, trainer, jockey and now also groom).
      I also agree with what WarrenI said. I was a member of the RA years ago because I thought they were there only look after the interest of owners. Complained about the acceptance of horses not stabled at Flamingo (think it was one horse per Flamingo trainer first and then they considered the other non-Flamingo horses). The RA only told me that it was the rules and they could do nothing about it. Sorry to say, but after that I stabled a few of my horses at Flamingo and won and placed a few (got preferential treatment!!). Had to do it as my horses would fail to make the cut (stabled at the Vaal), even if they had better merit ratings for the race.
      We have some good horses in Gauteng that can only ran on sand. The Vaal sand is going to be history in 2 months. I think the Flamingo horses are still being given an advantage at this stage (maybe I’m wrong but do not think so).
      Suppose we will be informed by Sporting Post what was agreed by somebody to enable our Gauteng horses to run at Flamingo at a fair chance.

  6. Don. says:

    And they wonder why there are no new young people entering the sport. Who can compete with the “big money boys”.

  7. Steve Reid says:

    There seems to have been little reaction to the portion of the article that relates to the stakes agreement, and the many changes to that agreement that have occurred since the original was accepted circa 1999. For owners, every change in that agreement has been to their detriment and therefore in the favour of Phumelela. Monies that should have swelled the stakes pot has instead been utilised for other purposes, usually for the benefit of Phumelea and their shareholders. The question must be asked as to how this could have happened? The Racing Trust, which holds roughly a third of Phumelela’s shareholding was established to protect owners interests, and acquired these Phumelela shares following the handover of the entire assets of the previous Racing Clubs on the Highveld, Free State and Eastern Cape to Phumelela for the princely sum of R1. Now liken this scenario to a democratically elected parliament in terms of representation. The Racing Trust should form the role of a strong opposition, ensuring that the ruling party ( in this example Phumelela ) should not be dominant and be held accountable for their actions, whilst representing their constituents ( the owners in Phumelela country). Unfortunately we all know that the elephants in the room are the parties that control racing, from within both the Racing Association, the Racing Trust, and Phumelela itself. It is not hard to apply your mind to current and previous board incumbents of these entities to see the common denominator. The proliferation of board members within these structures with either a Steinhoff or Investec connection is irrefutable. The Steinhoff and Investec presence therefore becomes a Phumelela presence when perusing the Phumelela shareholding interests of Jooste and Kantor. Simply put, referring back to the parliamentary example, the “opposition” have crossed the floor to the ruling party. The controlling device in place to protect owners interests, being the shares held by the Racing Trust, have been nullified and the “holy grail”, the stakes agreement, has been raped and pillaged for Phumelelas benefit at the expense of owners. There is no doubt that the stakes pot would be substantially larger, and I mean substantially, should the original stakes agreements parameters still be in place. Wording such as “turnover” has been changed to “profit” in some instances. Percentage amounts have been lowered in other instances. The rise of international racing and the various sideshows outside of horse racing, in particular soccer betting, are catered for in the original agreement, but have been severely restricted in the current agreement. Ask yourself why the current, and previously amended stakes agreements have been jealously guarded from outside eyes, and many formal requests from Racing Association members to have sight of this agreement have been ignored. Commitments from Larry Wainstein to supply copies of amended agreements whilst in NHA enquiries, have not been fulfilled. Why do Phumelela, the Racing Association, and the Racing Trust have a confidentiality agreement in place should all business conducted be open and transparent? Phumelela shareholders have benefited enormously, both in terms of share value and dividends paid since corporatisation. When the benefits are compared to the pitiful rise in stakes raced for by owners over the same period, it is clear why the Steinhoff and Investec role players are massively invested in Phumelela shares. The foxes have been assigned responsibility to look after the chickens. I suggest that Racing Association members ask Larry to present to them the workings between the original stakes agreement, and the current stakes agreement at this years AGM. Phumelela resuts will be available at that time and it will be a simple case of populating the figures to the two formulas. If there is nothing to hide, and Larry and his board have been protecting their constituents interests, this should be a chest beating exercise for him and his board. Any bets on the likelihood of this?

  8. Brett Maselle says:

    Mr Reid, You make some very valid points.

    I was once a member of the RA. I asked too many questions. The RA board of directors, took an unprecedented decision to remove me as a member of the RA. They put it to the vote by members. Grant Knowles was seconded by Markus Jooste underlings to assist the RA board of directors in obtaining the support to remove me as a member of the RA. Mr Knowles went about his business contacting members and garnering support. To me, there was no doubt, that should the matter be put to a vote, I would have been removed as a member of the RA. At the time members were apathetic and had little idea what was going on. Most, did not know the facts and were happy to oblige the RA Board. They had no reason to disbelieve the nonsense spun by Mr Knowles and the RA Board. The writing was on the wall and as a result, I resigned as a member of the RA. Larry Wainstein was angry that things had not worked out as planned and he could not embarrass me. Although I had resigned he insisted that the vote be taken. It is a pity that the RA tries to silence its critics by way of clandestine means. I intend to remain a thorn in the side of those who purport to act on behalf of horseracing but instead are only looking out for number one. Time and time again, the RA, through its mouthpiece, has said that it acts for all owners. So, as an owner and since we are dealing with issues relating to owners, I wish to raise the following:-

    1. At one stage the RA had most of its money invested in the bank. In 2010 it had approximately R74,5million in the bank. The RA thereafter converted its cash into Unit Trusts. In 2013 it had approx. R77 million in unit trusts. That means that over a period of 3 years, these assets only increased by R2.5 million. Bad investments? I think not. Something else occurred. Bear in mind that the value of Unit Trusts increased by approx.R13.5 million from 2013 to 2014 to approx. R90.5 million. You need to ask why there was/is such a discrepancy from year to year. There is no explanation. Has any RA member noticed that the RA Board conspicuously avoids disclosure of the number of unit trusts that the RA owns and the value attributable to each one? Has any RA member asked why the RA Board has been dipping into its unit trusts and for the reasons and why the RA has not made disclosure to members?

    2.Has any RA member asked why the RA Board concluded a written “Facilities Agreement ” with Phumelela allowing Phumelela to cap its annual expenditure on facilities at R40million + annual CPI and the RA becoming liable for anything over and above that agreed? Why was it so easy for Phumelela to agree to close the Vaal sand track and advise that it would be placing a polytrack at Turffontein? Has the RA disclosed this massive annual contingent liability to its members? If Phumelela intends to use the Facilities Agreement signed by Mr Wainstein, it could, over the next few years, cause the financial end of the RA.

  9. Warren says:

    This topic should be getting a lot more support, as this is a great topic to debate.
    We should try understand the Process of an AGM .

    The Racing Association is due to around the 1st week in December 2015 to hold their Seventeenth Annual General Meeting. Notices and Proxy Forms will be sent out around about two weeks prior to the meeting .

    So what is the Notice of this Meeting –

    The Notice will stipulate a number of points i.e. The Date , Time and Venue of the proposed meeting and the Agenda of Topics to be discussed.

    An Example would look similar to this –

    A G E N D A

    Notice is hereby given to the Members of the Racing Association that the sixteenth Annual General Meeting will be held in the Hawaii Room, 3rd Floor, Turffontein Racecourse at xxhxx on Thursday xx December xxx for the following purposes:-

    1. To confirm the Minutes of the xxxx Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 4 December 2014, copies of which accompany the Notice of Meeting.

    2. To receive the Chairman’s Report for the year under review.

    3. To consider the audited annual financial statements for the financial year ended 31 July 2014 including the directors’ report and the report of the auditors. Audited annual financial statements accompany this notice.

    4. To authorize the directors to fix the auditors’ remuneration for the past year and to appoint auditors for the coming year.

    5. To present the stakes for the forthcoming season.

    6. To announce the names of the directors who have been elected as provided for in terms of Clause 17 of the Association’s Articles of Association, and who will assume office at the close of the Annual General meeting.

    7. To transact such business as may be transacted at an annual general meeting. To this end, should you have an item for discussion, please submit same, in writing to this office by not later than Monday 00 November 2015.

    8. VOTING AND PROXIES – On a show of hands, every member present in person or by proxy shall have one vote, and on a poll, every member present in person or by proxy shall have one vote. A member entitled to attend and vote at the Annual General meeting may appoint one or more proxies to attend, speak and vote on behalf of such member. The proxy so appointed must be a member of the Association in good standing. Proxy forms, for use by members are attached to this notice. Duly completed proxy forms must be lodged at the registered office of the Association, by not later than 16h00 on Monday x December 2015.

    So lets take this step by step,

    1. To confirm the Minutes of the xxxx Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 4 December 2014, copies of which accompany the Notice of Meeting.

    This is to confirm that the minutes of the previous meeting are true and correct and that the meeting can continue. Although we are now in September 2015 – 10 Months since – I unfortunately can not find a copy of the minutes of the meeting held on the 4th of December 2014. These should be buy now be available for perusal or published on the website.

    2. To receive the Chairman’s Report for the year under review.
    The Chairman’s Report will be presented for the Previous Year. This is to be considered and is not a discussion opportunity.

    3. To consider the audited annual financial statements for the financial year ended 31 July 2015 including the directors’ report and the report of the auditors. Audited annual financial statements accompany this notice.
    This to is only for consideration . If you have any questions they must be tabled , but we will get back there.

    4. To authorize the directors to fix the auditors’ remuneration for the past year and to appoint auditors for the coming year.
    Standard practice however should you feel that there are conflicts of interest or that they are being incorrectly remunerated , one could object . However unless you have a real valid reason there is no reason not to . However a change is as good as a holiday.

    5. To present the stakes for the forthcoming season.
    Once again a presentation for consideration. This to is not a space to challenge it.

    6. To announce the names of the directors who have been elected as provided for in terms of Clause 17 of the Association’s Articles of Association, and who will assume office at the close of the Annual General meeting.
    Standard Practice for Record purposes.

    7. To transact such business as may be transacted at an annual general meeting. To this end, should you have an item for discussion, please submit same, in writing to this office by not later than Monday 00 November 2015.

    Now this is when we bring up all the arguments or discussions.

    Should you have a subject or question to be addressed to the Chairman and the Board this is the place. You are required to give notice of your item around about a week or two prior. Any topics not put forward , can not and may not be discussed , so it is imperative to confirm that your item is on the agenda.

    8. VOTING AND PROXIES – On a show of hands, every member present in person or by proxy shall have one vote, and on a poll, every member present in person or by proxy shall have one vote. A member entitled to attend and vote at the Annual General meeting may appoint one or more proxies to attend, speak and vote on behalf of such member. The proxy so appointed must be a member of the Association in good standing. Proxy forms, for use by members are attached to this notice. Duly completed proxy forms must be lodged at the registered office of the Association, by not later than 16h00 on Monday x December 2015.

    Now this is probably the most understood part.

    Each member of the RA has a Vote on any subject that is called for.
    Now because the RA members are spread across the country a Proxy Form for accompany the Notice. The Proxy form is described as follows :

    Proxy voting is a form of voting whereby some members of a decision-making body may delegate their voting power to other members of the same body to vote in their absence, and/or to select additional representatives.

    A person so designated is called a “proxy” and the person designating him or her is called a “principal”.

    Proxy appointments can be used to form a voting bloc that can exercise greater influence in deliberations or negotiations.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_voting

    When the Racing Association members receive these proxy forms , two things normally happen. The first is that it gets tossed in the trash, the second is that The Proxy is signed over to the Chairman or nominated member. The majority of times it is to the Chairman.

    Now why is this so dangerous ? If every member that can not attend – then gives the power to the board to make decisions and or important items that are voted for.
    This is not healthy in a democracy.

    Ask questions for example

    Who would I like to represent me on the board?
    Is the current board investing all their power and privileges into the Sport of Horse Racing ?
    Is the board equal in all aspects such as race and gender etc. ?

    In closing, although we all enjoyed Robyn’s article, there is a bigger underlying problem here. The upcoming AGM in December is not far away and therefore any concerns should be put forward for answers.

    Conclusion – The Board serves the Members and Shareholders
    – Do not waste your Vote
    – Do not give your proxy to the Chairman unless you “believe” in the Board.

  10. Alec says:

    The headline photo has two men shaking hands with their LEFT hands! Who does this?

    1. Editor says:

      Boy scouts, Alec

  11. Jennifer says:

    I would like to comment on owners in general, most of us don’t have the money to buy horses for hundreds of thousands of rand never mind millions, on average a horse wins one race in its lifetime, if it is above average it will win more and go on to win graded races, and by that time has earned its owner quite a tidy sum. It is all good and well having the million rand races but how many loyal owners horses ever get their. It is only a hand full of people who can afford to buy the best bred horses who do get their. So for the average owner who is winning one race a stake of at least one hundred thousand for a maiden will cover his expenses and encourage him to buy another horse, at the moment it is once tried no luck lets call it a day, and racing cannot afford to lose even the smallest of owners. Due to this fact the smaller trainers are having to give up. Can and will racing survive with only a few owners and their trainers, how boring will racing not become, and unfortunately it is already becoming so. I was a passionate racer and I am sorry to say the excitement has left the game.

    1. Jess K says:

      Jennifer, you are correct. More and more smaller owners and trainers are being forced out of the game.
      You ask, can racing survive ? Yes, it will but it is becoming an elitist sport (some say it has always been and we gate-crashed the party), where the big boys strut their stuff.
      Does it bother the Operator ? Not in the least ! Horseracing costs money, upkeep of tracks, hosting race meetings, those irritating stakes and those old license conditions. There are so many other betting options for them now which are more profitable. So slowly but surely our racetracks are being sold or closed (even being blindly cheered on nowadays by many as in the Vaal sand situation), applications to change or amend the conditions of their gambling license being submitted to the Gambling Board, more and more expenses being imposed on owners and trainers, so that eventually the smaller players are left with no choice but to leave or seek employment from the big guys.
      Hence we get big increases for the Big Races (strawberries and cream) and little joy for the bread and butter brigade, who are governed by that mysterious Stakes Agreement, locked up in an impregnable vault.
      Many years ago, a group called the Concerned Owners, highlighted most of these issues, including the infiltration of the Racing Trust (which is the stakeholders ie. owners and trainers, turf clubs’ stake in Phumelela in return for us handing them our horseracing assets) and the RA (the so-called owners’ body which is the key to the Trust ).
      What followed was shameful, with some of the key members “crossing the floor”, so to speak, where they now hold key positions in the industry, be it RA, NHA and/or the Operator and the remaining “rebels” discredited and sidelined.
      Can this be corrected ? Highly unlikely, as most don’t have the interest or the will, or the love of horseracing to fight the battle against the juggernaut – they just move on as they cheer the closing of another racetrack, leaving the giants to breed and race among themselves.

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