The bomb dropped last week. Leading SA Owner and Breeder, and internationally respected businessman, Markus Jooste resigned from the board of Steinhoff International. His resignation from the boards of Phumelela Gaming & Leisure and Kenilworth Racing followed soon after.
Television shrunk racing and now we almost all know each other – or at least of each other.
Markus and Ingrid Jooste have been SA Owners Of The Year for 10 years in succession and it’s one of those records you know is just never going to get beat.
In racing circles Markus Jooste is recognized by everyone. Not only a champion owner through the internationally active company Mayfair Speculators, he’s the driving force which shouldered Klawervlei to Champion Breeder status. He foist Cape Thoroughbred Sales into the limelight with the most valuable race ever run in Africa, the CTS Million Dollar and supported stakes through sponsorships from Gomma Gomma, Sansui and Klawervlei, in tandem with Investec.
More investments also saw his name on the racing boards with, now former, directorships in Phumelela and Kenilworth Racing.
There is no doubt that Markus Jooste has had an input on all aspects of racing life at the top level for a good while.
After a very public resignation as CEO of Steinhoff International last week, the mainstream press has trumpeted every fact, rumour and guess. Very little real information has been provided and many in the cheap seats have almost lost their minds speculating on the fallout that may yet spill over into horseracing.
Over the past five years Jooste and Mayfair has had on average 3 runners each and every day, and over 800 winners; more than a dozen per month. With numbers like those, anyone with a heart for racing will be wondering, what happens next?
The Mayfair horses were purchased widely and distributed to a select, but fairly wide group of trainers. They run in most centres and populate fields so regularly that punters have gotten used to several different coloured caps being worn to differentiate the Mayfair runners wearing the same Springbok silks in many races – even though they are not coupled through trainers.
The scope and breadth of the influence emerges.
Hundreds of racehorses. Hundreds of broodmares. All have made a huge impression on the racing landscape. Stallions, mares, yearlings and racehorses means activities from the breeding shed, via the sales arena to the race track and into the boardroom and beyond for years and years. And suddenly, now a stunning silence.
The lack of information dissemination is understandable – perhaps even expected. But it is unfortunate, because the speculation becomes rife.
But still, reasonable and practical questions do emerge.
- What happens to the trainers?
- Will the fields get smaller?
- Will some of the horses be sold?
- What about the Met top two in the betting?
- Will all the horses be sold?
- What happens to the farm?
- What happens to the mares?
- What happens to the stallions?
- What happens to the sales?
- What happens at the sales?
- What happens to the Phumelela share price?
- Should anything happen to the Phumelela share price?
- Does it matter unless you have shares?
- Who’s business is it anyway?
It is not the way that anybody would have chosen to close an already difficult year.
The reality is that horseracing is but a component of the apparent widespread fallout.
We watch and wait.
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