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Racing Must Take Charge Of Destiny

Racing and corporatization are incompatible

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.

A middle aged man very upset about something. Pointing his finger. Anger Management?

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.

Golden Easter Egg

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.

shut sign

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.

Party Of The Year. The J&B Met has always been a popular social occasion

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.

Rank and file? Our favourite hogs are doing well for Sansui

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.

UCT RAG Race Day

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.

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7 comments on “Racing Must Take Charge Of Destiny

  1. Barry Irwin says:

    Racing’s best chance to survive in many locales, America being first and foremost, is for the owners, trainers and veterinarians to take over the game as a non-profit venture. Corporations have shown they want to bleed the sport. We need to learn to stand up on our own two feet and stop aligning ourselves with other gaming interests. If racing is promoted as a sport the gambling revenue will follow.

  2. Ian Jayes says:

    I was one of two votes against corporatisation. I was branded a maverick and an alarmist. The overwhelming majority knew better and voted for it, so let them take the pain.

  3. Seafarer says:

    Owners, trainers and veterinarians to take over the game as a non-profit venture -the best advice given .

    But who has the back bone to make the change, And I certainly do not want the Öwners “Larry and his Crue in charge. God help us.

    Hearing that there is a Nationwide Groom’s Strike on its way

    Min wage something like R6k – Go SAGA Go –

    Meeting being held in Durban today.

    This is the only way to go . The operators need to wake up and we all need to support the grooms .

  4. A says:

    When are owners and punters going to wake up to the fact that they hold all the power in racing. Without either you’ve got no racing. The rest are just hangers-on to smooth the way.
    Without owners buying the horses to race, what do the shareholders of Phumelela have? What would they broadcast overseas? The grass growing? And without punters, why would owners buy horses? The shareholders risk nothing. They brought nothing into racing. The whole set-up, which was built up over many years was just handed over to them for a few rand.
    It’s time the small owners got together and formed their own union. I bet if they joined forces and said we’re not racing our horses for 1 month, Phumelela would feel it. And if you think that’s too long, do it for two weeks.
    Same for the punters. We’re risking our money betting on horses and everyone else is skimming off the top. If we all didn’t bet for a week, even the taxman would sit up and take notice.

    1. Gordon D says:

      Agree with all of that !! every word.

  5. Blue Peter says:

    Is that really a solution. Racing must be placed first.

  6. a says:

    Funny that the shareholders are not placing racing first. They just take and take and take……….

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