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East Cape Derby Day Observations

Visitor to Fairview lists a few points

An epiphany  prompted me to invite a much younger friend to the East Cape Derby at Fairview on Saturday.

Ryan had never attended a race meeting and was raring to go, writes Ralph Fell in the Sporting Post Mailbag.


We thus made the 60km. round trip from my home to the concrete edifice that doubles as a racecourse.

From just prior to the first race it became patently obvious that the noble, magnificent racehorses were a sideshow.

During the course of the day we were subjected to:

  1. A ‘fashion show’ where the models had to carefully descend a flight of concrete steps.
  2. A Spanish dancing troupe.
  3. A trio of high energy dancers.
  4. A trifecta of more of the aforementioned.
  5. Surly ‘Men in Black’ restricting free passage whilst these charades took place.
  6. The inevitable Lucky losing ticket competitions, where the winners, in the main, appeared to have been scratched.
  7. All the aforementioned conducted by a representative from the local radio station who appeared to want to garner more attention than the stars of the day – the superb athletes on show.
  8. Overpriced and sparsely attended food stalls – a tub of ‘slap chips’ a meagre R32.
  9. The lawn area populated by, presumably hired, a minimum of 30 wooden          tables and benches of which, at any given stage, a maximum of 3 were occupied.

    Alistair Cohen

    Nadine Low Ah Kee and Ali Cohen at Fairview (file pic)

  1. Surly tote staff – Ryan’s observation.
  2. A Betting World cubicle, where one of the two clerks was cashing up 10 minutes prior to the ‘off” of Race 8.
  3. Cleaning ladies, I counted at least 8, in what appeared to be tailor made uniforms, standing disconsolately brandishing empty refuse bags whilst occasionally picking up an errant cigarette butt.
  4. The general manager was quoted in the media earlier in the week as saying quote unquote ‘a bumper crowd was expected.’ I saw him in the distance on a few occasions cutting a distinctly forlorn figure.
  5. Does Nadine come up for air?
  6. An overwhelming cacophony throughout the day, and the only sound never audible was the beautiful one of a horse whinnying.
  7. There’s a rumour circulating that American Landing won the Derby, but don’t take my word for it. Possibly one of the flamenco dancers knows the full result.

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14 comments on “East Cape Derby Day Observations

  1. MJ says:

    You get to the races where there is no entertainment and you complain, when they try have some entertainment you complain! Rather stay at home, we don’t need your negative publicity in our sport Mr Fell.

    1. Pops says:

      OK what is happening with the Tote today Monday?The tote betting is closing long before the off(at least 2 minutes according to Tellytrack time) for the British race meetings

      1. Editor says:

        Mervin Gamble, GM Sports Betting @ Phumelela reponds to Pops’ comment as follows:

        We commingle all races with the UK Tote and as the host they control closing of pools. This is standard commingling protocol. Only when links are lost would the guest close their pools. When there are no visuals available pools are closed on post time. This is standard procedures but I am not sure what happened today. I will investigate and revert.

        1. Chris Swart says:


          It was cottoned on that live racing overseas was being delayed (to prevent bucket shops of course).

      2. Editor says:

        Hi Pops
        Mervin Gamble advises that they have checked and nothing found.
        Do you have specific races / times etc?

        1. Pops says:

          Cattrick 4th race, which was the first leg of the jackpot, was closed long before the horses went behind to start loading.And there were visual of this.
          Wolves 4th and 5th races seemed to close before the off..

          1. Editor says:

            Thanks Pops

  2. Brian says:

    Hey MJ. It might be negative but only in that those might not like the message. The fact is the message is correct and those in the hot seats should take heed of these messages rather than the ones that tell them everything they want to hear.

    Racing needs harsh constructive criticism which I consider this to be.

    Negative publicity is good

  3. Dave says:

    I concur with Brian …..all i want to see when I go racing are the horses and the other aspects which support good racing, i.e. decent facilities, decent food, being able to follow racing at other venues etc. You may call me negative but I still support local racing by attending most midweek meetings in the Western Cape despite the fact that Kenilworth’s facilities are not great.
    Or perhaps my recipe for successful racing is not that of the younger generation?
    It’ll be interesting to see how many side shows there are at Royal Ascot later next month although I know that they have some old lady in a carriage (with her entire entourage nogal !) always being allowed to parade before the first race. They certainly need to address that distraction 🙂

  4. Riaan says:

    I am from Kzn and was on holiday in PE last year,took my wife to the course for racing and it was shocking,one tote operator,food not to speak about and the stables employees stand on the cement “pavilion and shout the races from start to finish where you are sitting in the “lounge”

  5. MJ says:

    We all have our own opinion and yes I agree with all the above, Racing is about the horse and the crowds will follow. Unfortunately in SA that hasn’t happened for a long time so we need some sort of entertainment. Constructive criticisms is good, just not always nice when you know the people behind the scenes are doing their best.!!

  6. Brian says:

    Aaaah! We understand the personal feelings here MJ. A good friend of mine once told me “it takes a friend to tell you you have bad breathe” No one else will, they just hang out with someone else.

    So please MY tell your friends they have bad breath.

  7. Don says:

    Brian, had there been a ‘bumper crowd’ – all of Ralph’s points (bar a few which the powers that be need to note down) would be seen differently. I agree with MJ – the horse and the sport first, and the sideshow to be, well, the sideshow. So, the question is, where was the ‘bumper crowd’ then? Where were the windy city race fans and their families? (Ralph and Ryan, thank you for taking the trouble to go to the course and support your sport and people).

  8. Christopher says:

    I’m from PE and I use to love going to Fairview to attend this derby day until last year. Uncanny how similar my experience was to that of the author of this article. I’ve lost all interest in racing and stopped punting altogether. I just “follow” now for fun. The sport of racing is dying a slow death yet the powers that be thinks they’re doing a sterling job….sad!

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