Leading bloodstock man and a top Gr1 owner in his own right, John Freeman has never been a puppet of officialdom. While he has personally played a key role in the evolution of the succesful Snaith team who smashed all records on Met day, he wasn’t raving about the side-show entertainment, that appears to have become the standard on our big days.
John writes in his E-news 561:
I started to write about the disturbing new dimension that has been introduced to top level racing in South Africa a few days ago. I thought I’d leave what I had written and rethink it after the dust had settled. I find this new development of entertainment at race meetings frightening – I was told that I am the only one to have complained.
This new concept is unique in the world of racing. BOOM BOOM GRRR GRRR heavy-base rave-sound trance music is now being played at race meetings to attract younger people to the course like nowhere else on earth. Sadly the ravers attend these events for anything other than the horses.
I watched carefully as they moved en-masse from one trance-party to the next. There were 5 competing events, each trying to outdo the other with volume to attract the party goers.
Does anyone think these youngsters will stay when the music gets turned off?
Those of us that were there for the actual racing could hardly hear a commentary, even with the TV on maximum volume and huddled behind closed doors, standing within a meter of the TV.
Sadly as the day wore on it got worse. I have attended racing festivals at almost every major racing jurisdiction in the world, some many times, and I have never seen anything like this before.
This need for a disco in the open on a major raceday first popped up at the Durban July a few years ago. That at least was moderate by comparison and sort of under control during the parade and actual races.
Then at the Rising Sun Gold Challenge last year I thought I had seen it all. Thousands of people sat riveted to their chairs watching a stage halfway down the straight as this incessant boom-boom music ruined the day for those of us that actually wanted a day at the races.
So we left early despite winning the Gr1 race that day.
I went to Kenilworth on Friday to clean and stock up for the big day. The disco people were already testing their sound systems. I expressed my concerns about the level of noise to the COO and chairman of the local board. I asked for assurance that the level of sound would be reduced for the raceday. It wasn’t.
Racing found it extremely difficult to follow. The announcements and anything to do with racing totally lost in that continual blur of painful noise.
I watched in horror as our poor horses, whose hearing is so much more acute than ours, take the brunt of it. Normally placid young horses shook their heads and fought to escape and some reared.
S’manga Khumalo got thrown by his mount during the parade of the eleventh race – very clearly terrified by the noise.
A replacement jockey had to be found. Few, unless they were actually watching that incident on TV, were aware of the incident. The poor horse sensibly rushed to the parade ring after injuring his jockey. A replacement rider was found (though no-one would know who it was since by that stage we could hear nothing at all, let alone notification of a jockey change).
The horse was taken by his trainer in hand all the way to the start. The last race was the worst of all. I can’t describe how I annoyed I was at witnessing what those poor horses had to endure.
I heard that MJ also got hurt in a fall.
Evidently the new thinking is that loud music and horses belong together. They don’t! I beg them not to let this become a feature of our game. Its dangerous to jockeys and unkind to horses. That’s just not my view – I know that I speak for many who wish they had a platform to join in.
Read the rest of the newsletter here.