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Vaal Starting Issues

Inconvenience and cost to all stakeholders

On an embarassing afternoon for South African racing, start related incidents bedevilled the Vaal meeting on Thursday with phantoms releasing starting gates and even pressing the false start siren.

The trouble started in the fourth race when the front gates of the starting stalls opened for no apparent reason, resulting in Seven Sovereigns bolting the course and being scratched by a veterinary surgeon. The horses Singaswewin and The Great Duchess were restrained by their jockeys and passed fit to race after examination by a veterinary surgeon. This naturally caused a delay to the start of the race.

The phantom starter was back in action for the sixth race. Again the starting stalls opened like magic and the 2 to 1 fancy Vulcan was scratched after bolting. Tandava, Angelic Appeal and Rain Shadow were restrained and passed fit to race by a veterinary surgeon. This once again caused a delay.

According to the official Stipes Report, following the starting stalls opening prematurely for the second time, the Stipendiary Board investigated and it was established that this was a different bank of stalls to the ones which were used in Race 4 – where the gates also opened prematurely.  Therefore it was deduced that the problem was with the cabling and/or the release trigger and not the starting stalls themselves.

It was decided that the remaining races would be started by means of a manual start.  The Operator has undertaken to make the necessary corrective measures to the starting stall equipment before the next Vaal racemeeting.

But it doesn’t end there.

Shortly after the runners jumped for the ninth race, the false start siren went off. It was apparently not activated by any human intervention. With the exception of Gavin Lerena (Queen Anne – 22 to 10) and Craig Zackey (All Done) all of the riders pulled up their mounts. These two horses were examined and scratched. The rest were passed fit to race.

As all of the jockeys reacted to the false siren, the Stipes – ‘in the interest of racing’ – decided this false siren was a false start, despite the fact that the starter had not activated the siren and it had gone off ‘accidentally’.

The aforementioned information has been gleaned from the Stipes Report.

Besides the inconvenience and cost to all stakeholders, the late withdrawal of fancied runners is bad news for punters and for tote turnover. Horses and riders are exposed to injury. Delays in races impact on international schedules.

But mostly, negative perceptions of incompetence and a lack of care on the part of those that run the game are simply reinforced. And where are the official apologies to the customer?




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4 comments on “Vaal Starting Issues”

  1. Two observations from this debacle: Firstly, it is a disgrace how horseracing is being conducted under Phumelela; there is obviously an absence of good management and a lack of proper maintenance. The starting stalls, stand-by generator and other equipment were always thoroughly checked the day before a racemeeting. Secondly, the jockey and handler that yanked and fought the horse to stay in the stalls when the gate opened, should be severely reprimanded. Horses don’t know that the stalls should all open simultaneously, but they do know that when the gate opens they must jump. Did those geniuses give any thought to what signal they were giving that horse and after hurting its mouth so badly, do they really think it will want to go into the stalls next time and if it did, would they really expect it to jump on terms? By the same token, at every racemeeting one sees jockeys sawing the bit through the horses’ mouths when taking them down to the start. Do they have no empathy at all for the horses they are riding. This is cruelty and it is long overdue for the Stipes to take action against them.

  2. My question remains, why should the punter pay the penalty for faulty equipment. It has happened numerous times where an odds on favourite became a late scratching and the second favourite ( which is now the new favourite ) doesnt even run a place. Its time that Phumulela realise the importance of punters. No punters No racing !!!! Refund the punter on the ticket or make the late scratching an automatic ticket

    1. Carel perhaps you can find out why the punters also suffered on Saturday… Bull Valley win should of Paid R8.80 but paid R4.4o and the Jackpot should of paid R22 044.60 but paid R13140.10.. Why???? Vivian

      1. Vivian. we explained the Jackpot payout reduction iro the tote favourite winning the last
        We are awaiting Vee Moodley response

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