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Gold Circle Ups Transparency Game

Barrier Trials will soon be obligatory in KwaZulu-Natal for unraced horses and those returning after a rest of 120 days or more.

The trials will be held over 1000m on the Greyville polytrack prior to racemeetings under the control of the National Horseracing Authority and no betting will be permitted.

Horses will have to run within 60 days of their trials calculated to the acceptance date and only horses finishing within a benchmark of 70 secs will be deemed to have qualified. The standard time for the trip is 58,45 secs, so this limit ensures that the participants are kept relatively enthusiastic.

The registered owner’s colours or the silks of the trainer will be worn in the trials.

Once all acceptors for a barrier trial have been declared by their trainers, Gold Circle will allocate the field for the trial at their sole discretion. An effort will be made to allocate the final trial field based on what appears to be horses best suited in terms of ability with merit ratings used as a guide.

Greyville Polytrack Trials

Barrier trials will be run at a set weight of 58kgs, plus overweight if necessary, and only licenced jockeys and apprentices are permitted to ride.

Fields will be published in the official race card and comprise a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 8 triallists. The results of trials will be published in the official racecard and videos posted on-line at www.goldcircle.co.za.

Barrier trials are used in countries like Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. They are beneficial for horses who have not run before and in Australia for example, trainers consider them essential in order to prepare a horse for its first race.

Paul Lafferty

Paul Lafferty – driving force

The experience gives unraced horses the full race-meeting feel – the journey to the racecourse, the crowd buzz and if there are enough horses participating in the trial, it’s like a real race but with no pressure to win.

Paul Lafferty, chairman of the KZN Trainers Association, and a driving force behind the introduction of barrier trials in that province, is excited and believes they will enhance consumer confidence in the sport.

Barrier trials were introduced on an experimental basis in the Cape and Gauteng back in the 1990s and fizzled out after failing to make an impact, and as Phumelela CEO Rian du Plessis has pointed out, they come at a cost.

“Gold Circle can be commended for this initiative, but our position remains that the cost and additional wear on our turf surfaces is substantial,” he said.

“We have found no factual evidence substantiating that these negatives will be outweighed by the positives. We will monitor the situation very closely and will naturally change if our position is proved incorrect.”


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10 comments on “Gold Circle Ups Transparency Game

  1. Ian Jayes says:

    How will setting a benchmark time of 70 secs for 1000 metres be of any assistance to punters? A horse running that time would finish a furlong behind the winner. This is nonsensical and bad window-dressing.

  2. Rod Mattheyse says:

    Is Paul still excited after quite a difficult trainers meeting during the past few days

  3. Louis Goosen says:

    Rod – I am in KZN and am not aware of any Trainers meeting during the last few days….

    Overall, I am in Ian Jayes camp /school of thought. I just cannot see the benefits of barrier trials….except , of course, if you are a Trainer that brings horses to the course that have no clue or are a menace at the stalls, perhaps needing further schooling…..but that is a big debate on its own….and that is a minority problem, surely?
    But, is this not a NHA matter/decision ?

    Ultimately, no barrier trial or Trainer comment on first timers will come within a Country Mile of Sectional Timing, in terms of aiding Punters and the heavily sought after “transparency ” of the modern era, in which Punters needs are often confused with Bookies dictates under the guise of same alleged Punters needs.


    1. Rod Mattheyse says:

      you are at ashburton, and it was probably not a formal meeting. But can i accept from your comments that unanimous acceptance by trainers is a little far fetched. Maybe Paul will submit minutes of the meeting where this was indeed resolved unanimously at a trainers meeting

  4. Hamish says:

    Even if the horse ambles the 1000m in the very generous 70 seconds, at least owners will not have their paid for 1st run used by trainers to get the horse race fit.
    That should be done prior to racing and is a joke that mediocre first runs are excused as “to show the horse” or similar.
    A good step in the right direction Gold Circle.

    1. Roderick Mattheyse says:

      actually owners will be paying to have a first run without any opportunity to earn. Trainers cannot be expected to fund the additional labour cost of bringing the grooms to the track to look after their charges. The Jocks have reluctantly agreed to pitch in at no fee and kudos to them for that. Expect to see a lot of first timers between now and 1 March, or is this just kicking the can a little down the road until its dumped

  5. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    Editor or Robyn,

    another question for Mr Faul please. My handicapping is limited to his skills.

    Noble Duke a MR63 won over 1000m in 58s on the 27th. if a similar aged trialist , i.e 3 yr old runs the 1000m in 69,99s, in so doing passing the trial, what rating would you afford this unfortunate steed? My limited knowledge says a negative rating.

    1. Robyn Louw says:

      Hi Rod,

      I will forward to Mr Faull and get back to you asap.

      However, if I may venture an opinion, it’s important to remember that the trial is not there to decide the horse’s merit, merely its race readiness.

      1. Roderick Mattheyse says:

        Thanks and your opinion is valued, however if a horse does theoretically run to a negative or single digit rating, how ready to race is the poor beast. this 70 second pass mark only adds a layer of cost.

        Lets do a referendrum:
        A) Barrier trials
        B) Reduce the takeout by applying this additional layer of cost back to punters

        Another scenario what if a horse runs 69,99s 150m last in his/her trial and 59days later makes its betting debut race, opens at 50/1 its backed well and wins – will there be an enquiry and on what grounds?

  6. RvN says:

    Barrier trials … I mean really, what a waste of resources . Very happy that Charles Faull is happy but how long will owners be willing to sponsor faux transparency. Barrier trials will be gone in a years time guaranteed

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