RA CEO Wainstein’s recent statement that the increased stakes for this year’s L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and Sun Met came from the RA (“That money does not come from the sponsors. When a request was made to up the stakes on those races the guys came to me to see if we could afford it”) raised questions in a number of quarters.
On 8 February 2017, we emailed the RA asking who serves on the stakes committee (if there is such a thing) and who made the decision to up the Queen’s Plate and Met stakes. After receiving a letter regarding Industry Liaison Meetings and the representation of Grooms Associations on the ILM, we enquired as to the RA’s role and involvement in that capacity as well.
The RA’s Merle Parker responded to ask that the queries be directed to Mr Wainstein as he is handling media inquiries directly, which we did. Following additional reader queries regarding the stakes issue, we followed up with a second email dated 9 February 2017.
With no response forthcoming, we followed up again on 6 March 2017 with the following:-
As advised by Merle Parker, I am contacting you in your capacity as media liaison.
Firstly, a follow up to my email of 9 February with regards to Stakes (and another request / reminder for a copy of the stakes agreement that you promised previously). The query was to ask who serves on the stakes committee and also to clarify your statement that the cash to raise the stake for both the Queen’s Plate and Met has come from RA coffers – is that correct or is it not?
Secondly, I am enquiring with regards to Industry Liaison meetings. It seems some information has got onto the African Betting Clan. Notwithstanding whatever the fuss is about, I’ll repeat my question of a few weeks ago as to why Industry Liaison meetings are an RA function and why are they exclusively chaired and controlled by the RA?
Why is the content of Industry Liaison meetings confidential?
Thirdly, I believe it was a Government mandate that grooms’ associations be represented at Industry Liaison meetings – why do they not attend?
The RA Responds
On 7 March 2017, Mr Wainstein, in his capacity of CEO of the Racing Association, furnished us with the following:-
In response to your email of 6 March 2017 I wish to respond as follows:
· The Boards of the Racing Association and the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust have both taken a decision not to interact with the Sporting Post.
· The reason for the decisions by these Boards is due to the fact that in their opinion, the Sporting Post chooses to publish mostly sensational and unsubstantiated articles based on the opinions of persons who are negative towards the sport of racing.
· Further, these two Boards do not respond to other social media platforms whose main purpose is to criticise, make personal innuendoes and insult persons dedicated to all aspects of the industry.
· I wish to place on record that I am answerable to the RA Board and to the RA members only and further, to make it clear that I am under no obligation to answer to you or the Sporting Post.
What To Make Of It
Mr Wainstein’s response is disappointing as via the relationship between Phumelela, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust and the RA, Mr Wainstein is directly responsible for the management and administration of stakes. As the RA is allegedly also taking charge of Industry Liaison Meetings, he is also in the driving seat as far as this function is concerned.
The racing community funds the RA (and its salary bill) partly with membership fees, but mostly by way of contributions from our nomination and acceptance monies (approx R10 million annually). That means that the RA is funded by any colour holder who has ever paid nomination or acceptance fees for horses running anywhere in the country (with the exception of KZN), regardless of whether they are an RA member or not. That is as compelling a reason as any to regard this organisation as not only a servant to owners, but also accountable to all owners for their actions.
Secondly, the RA acts in an administrative capacity for the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust (usually referred to as the Racing Trust). The Trust is funded by the dividends it earns from its controlling shares in Phumelela. The Trust is paid those dividends with the mandate of safeguarding the interests of racing. The Trust is run by a board which, according to the latest RA Annual Report, currently constitutes Brian Finch (Chairman), Johann du Plessis, Mark Currie, Chris Gerber, Louis du Preez, Gideon Sam and Vinesh Maharaj. Five of the Trustees are nominated by the RA and two by SASCOC.
Between the Racing Trust and therefore by default, the Racing Association, they administer the all important Stakes Agreement with Phumelela, which controls the level of stakes.
Altogether a pretty compelling reason to expect transparency.