The majority of non-editorial topics on racing submitted by individuals tend to focus on what is bad in racing, and regrettably there is so much of this that it dominates discussions for weeks on end.
It is clear that there are many disgruntled and disillusioned stakeholders in racing, and not without reason, as the deterioration over the years are clear for all to see that follow the sport with passion, writes Leon Smuts.
This is not purely a local phenomenon but a global disease that needs to be addressed before it devours everything good about racing in its relentless path.
Betting operators come in for a lot of criticism, mostly self-inflicted and often earned, but it is indicative of a bigger problem, which is that the belief in racing as a bottom-line contributor is at an all-time low.
This also explains the apparent lack of interest from operators in actively promoting the sport and the sparse budgets allocated to racing.
Short term turnover gains and cost cutting has long been the only drivers in the racing space, and cutting corners in terms of service and technology delivery and race course closures and neglect is an unfortunate but logical regression.
Racehorse owners carry the brunt of it with stakes failing to keep pace with economic realities and the neglect of expanding the funding base guaranteeing that this burden will continue to grow.
The industry and its stakeholders cannot afford to rely on operators for its future as their motives are driven by profits over passion and with the two unlikely to ever form a union in a corporatized environment.
It is an absolute disgrace that a handful of shareholders triumph at the expense of the many stakeholders earning a keep from racing.
The logical conclusion is that racing and corporatization are incompatible and that the short term gains for the industry preceded long term drawbacks and repercussions as we are seeing already.
Is anyone to blame or is it an ill-conceived business model for a once prosperous industry?
Blaming any operator for running a business on business principles would be foolish as this is a requirement that they are meeting very admirably as can be seen from decent results locally.
Pointing fingers should not be allowed to get in the way of seeking workable solutions as the cause is admirable and noble.
It leaves one appropriate course of action for racing which is to take charge of its own destiny, especially in as far the marketing and promotion of the sport is concerned.
Only through dedicated and autonomous projects can additional funding be provided to specifically benefit racing rather than an operator or shareholders.
If the operator has no interest in this function the industry has an obligation to get involved in finding independent solutions for the benefit of a struggling majority.
Independent initiatives will ultimately also benefit operators and bookmakers but most importantly the whole value chain as racing can be made a lot more “sexy” and vibrant than it is at the moment.
The myth that racing cannot grow is just that, a myth, as no business will ever grow given the current self-imposed constraints and lack of a clear and compatible vision for racing.
In all the many years that I have been involved in the sport I have never seen any real efforts to introduce proper marketing objectives with regards to expanding the customer base and long term capacity.
Thoughtless and limited marketing initiatives, creates a sad illusion that racing is a dying sport when in fact it could be on the verge of a spectacular and profitable renaissance.