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Barrier Trials Are Here!

Gold Circle Leads The Way

Starting stalls (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

KZN are pioneering the implementation of barrier trials (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

In an exciting move for local racing, KZN are leading the way with the introduction of Barrier Trials, thanks largely to the efforts of Paul Lafferty.

“I’ve been a devotee of Charles Faull’s transparency calls for a long time, so I decided to get stuck in and run with it,” said Paul earlier today. “Being a Gold Circle board member, I brought it up before our Racing Committee and we all agreed it’s long overdue.”


The initiative was put to the vote at the KZN Trainers’ AGM on Tuesday, 19 September 2017 and voted in unanimously. “I know we will be lauded in some quarters and shot down in others, but it’s a move that’s long overdue,” continued Paul. “There are very few major owners left in KZN and from a trainer’s point of view, most of us are struggling to put horses together because racing has a perception problem. The public has no confidence in our racing because of our perceived lack of transparency and can you blame them? We still have guys refusing to give first timer comments. Unfortunately, public perception becomes our reality and that affects all of us. We have to get people to believe in our racing and to me, trials are a fait accompli.”

“The advantages are 10-fold. The horse gets the full race day experience of travelling, racing in company and trying out a new surface. The trainer gets a good idea of where the horse is in his prep and if people see you’ve stepped out a nice horse and he happens to be for sale, they might be tempted to buy in.”


Trials will be scheduled on a race day, half an hour before the first race on the polytrack to begin with and will consist of two gallops of 6 horses. “We have the existing infrastructure, so there are no extra costs,” explains Paul. “We’ll have jockeys and apprentices riding with silks, commentary and timing and the NHA’s involvement at the pens. All the information will be documented in the same way as a race and made publicly available. Michel Nairac is just tweaking all the logistics, but we are hoping to get it rolling for our 2yo races which is fantastic.”

“It’s a big statement from all of us at Gold Circle that we believe in our horses, our people and our industry. We are committed to promoting good governance and transparency from the owner, to the horse, to the trainer, to the punter and we feel this is the first step towards making KZN a wonderful hub of racing.”

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8 comments on “Barrier Trials Are Here!

  1. Barry Irwin says:

    Congratulations to Paul and Charles for making this happen. Not only will it help all concerned–trainers, owners, punters, riders, fans–but it goes to show that the power of the written word has neither been lost or diluted by those forces bent on quieting dissent and calls for improvements.

    1. ERIC RED says:

      Thanks Paul it is long overdue ,hope other provinces take note,;good luck with this long overdue idea,we as owners and punters need this,
      cheers my old NFS School friend ?

    2. ERIC RED says:

      Well done Paul,this is long 0verdue,we as owners and punters need this badly,hope Phumela take note,
      Cheers from frIends of NFHS

  2. Tex Lerena says:

    Great initiative Paul, Charles, KZN Trainers and Gold Circle – wish you all the best this is a win win for all -the horse, owner, trainer, punter and the operator


  3. Pops says:

    Let’s not rush off to learn the words to Kumbaya just yet.The $ 64 000 question is,will it be compulsory for horses taking part in Gold Circle meetings?
    And what will stop a horse being ridden a la Legal Eagle July trot/gallop?
    Remembering some trainers opinions on commenting on their first timers.
    “I am not saying that the media who collect this information cannot be trusted – that’s not the issue at all”
    .“The point is, whomever compiles the information has first access, in theory, so the info will always remain the property of that person or a select few around him who can use it before it is disseminated to the public.
    “Seriously, how would the public at large receive any exclusive information without someone else having been advantaged first?Etc,Etc
    So for that reason he may want to pass on barrier trials.

  4. pmb says:

    Barrier trial is only worth anything if there is criteria to pass/fail, and are
    compulsory undertaking before participating in a race.

  5. Barry Irwin says:

    In my experience, training races are useful on two accounts: 1) the horses gain valuable experience and b) sometimes punters glean some information. If punters are in favor of this initiative because they are under some misconception that they will lead to a form of competition, I fear they will be in for quite a shock. Trainers will want their horses to learn something, and many times this involves schooling them so they are ready for the real racing later on.

  6. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    what will happen first barrier trials or sectional timing….

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