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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

What are the answers for horseracing?

There is little doubt that when it comes to the play-off for adding value to horseracing in South Africa, Gold Circle tend to hold the upper-hand over the mercenary number crunching forces at play in Phumelela territory.

Gold Circle HQ. Greyville Racecourse in Durban

We just get the idea that the pursuit of the protection of the ethos of the sport down Durban way is more driven and genuinely well intended than anywhere else – which ground happens to be governed by Phumelela.

With their sectional timing plans –  trumpeted as going live for the 2016 July – now accepted as a non-event, Gold Circle have set out to create transparency initiatives designed to boost flagging tote turnovers and give punters the tools to find more winners,  and recreate the long lost delusion of the ‘brain game’. Tools are good – screwdrivers are easy to use, but hammer drills and angle grinders need guidance!

First up was Gold Circle’s  trainer first-timer comment publication.

This soon hit a rocky path as trainers are on a  hiding to nothing and some connections value their inside information. One PE trainer was quoted as telling the Gold Circle official that ‘You may phone me when Gold Circle pays my rent’.

Trainer Sean Tarry

Champion Sean Tarry also declined to contribute, suggesting that whoever compiles the information has first access.  “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,” cautioned Tarry.

So the initiative lost much of its momentum.

It has since been revived by Phumelela and the NRB as a requirement when trainers accept with first-timers and rested horses. So it is now more formal and ‘legislated’ – and Phumelela’s Rob Scott  has undertaken to provide all publications with this information in due course.

Now Barrier Trials are under the cosh. Are they working? Are they worth the effort? How should they be interpreted?

Mitra Music won the Pick 6 opener at Greyville on Wednesday. She finished over 12 lengths back in her barrier trial a month ago.

Mitra Music – top class win after ordinary barrier trial

Watch Mitra Music’s Barrier Trial:

As an overseas journalist summed it up recently:

Even when a horse wins a trial it can be one of the most misleading pieces of information available to the man iin the street. The bare fact of a trial win ranks right up there with third hand tips from a Facebook post from a brother’s mate’s ex-colleague who allegedly played social football with Ryan Moore and decided to share his goodwill with the world.

Read about the jockey’s gripes about Barrier Trials

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4 comments on “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

  1. pmb says:

    If people look at the result of a barrier trial they didn’t watch, and bet based on that, then they only have themselves to blame.
    Its a public gallop, better than a 2 horse private one that bookmakers and “in the know” punters will get staking out the training grounds, and with the trainers knowledge of where the horse is at, what it will be like in a race, and how much it needs before racing.
    Nothing more and not a form line.
    Certainly some talent can be obvious in some cases and that nice but knee-jerk ignorant summations of a horses abilty does not make barrier trials a bad idea

  2. Leon Smuts says:

    I applaud every effort to provide more information to punters as their success definitely comes back at owners and trainers through continued participation and long term involvement in boosting turnover, which is still the core funding mechanism for sustaining prize money. I don’t have an issue with owners having some inside information, and nothing is ever truly a racing certainty anyway, but when racing’s premier bet types prejudice the small player because of a lack of key information I feel no sympathy for owners or trainers or an operator that have a dismissive attitude towards punters. Punters is and will always be the life blood of the sport and it is only through swelling their ranks that the current slide can be reversed. If information hogging is something that has to be accepted, then also accept that the sport will suffer the consequences against other more transparent forms of gambling. If racing is to campaign for a new generation of players and continued loyalty from especially the smaller player, then at least consider introducing bet types that are not punitive on players who don’t have access to privileged information. Racing will only become marketable when it offers a realistic winning chance, an affordable involvement and a format that provides an afternoons entertainment and fun. Only once a certain level of skill is attained will most of our current bets offer an attraction to new players. Nothing is more important than creating wide spread interest and regular and longer term involvement is required if skill and a love for the game is to be cultivated. Only with the right gaming format will this become a reality and only by wide and growing involvement will pool liquidity become a further driver of interest. Unless common sense prevails in the marketing of racing no sympathy should be expected by those who prefer to rape this industry of long term prosperity.

  3. Basil says:

    Mr Nairac’s speech the other night seemed more concerned about “barrier trials” than the declining tote turnover. Racing survives mainly on betting and the purchase of horses by owners. I have often wondered about the poor attendance at meetings as well as declining tote turnovers and made several comparisons to other sports. English football has always attracted large home crowds due to the good possibility that the home team may win it’s encounter. When their side has little chance of winning attendances begin to decline dramatically. Likewise when punters chances of winning decline dramatically because of the MR system(apart from some other minor causes) they lose heart due to racing becoming a lottery and find other interests and ways to spend their hard earned Rands. Handicapping occurs in amateur golf and I can’t think of any other sport where it is practised. Barrier trials are theoretically good but may also practically be used for fitness reasons. Has anybody compared times in barrier trials to normal racing over the same distance?. Derek Flynn , a highly successful punter , had inside information which is what barrier trials hopefully gives a punter , claimed that the MR system was the cause of his punting demise.

  4. Ralph Fell. says:

    An uneducated guess tells me there are 3000-4000 racehorses in training in South Africa. What is the point in holding barrier trials for a miniscule percentage in one province? After having watched a couple of these trials it is patently obvious that the participants are not punished unduly and some seemingly given an ‘easy.’ Today, Thursday, Tellytrack screened +-70 races live. There is every conceivable exotic bet known to man offered during the day. Andrews and MacGregor spice matters up with their profligate spending on suggested soccer bets. Take it multiple times is Andrews’s refrain. Whilst the kettle is boiling one might miss arbitrary comments from jockeys at a training track. The likeable Liam added rugby into the mix this evening. No time for reflection because if there is a lull the dreaded ‘lift music’ is played. Who is the genius responsible for that innovation? Overkill sums it up. No time to smell the roses, one might miss the 10H14 at Pakenham or the 16H20 at Fakenham. The dubious bonus is that it happens 364 days a year on Channel 239 at a television near you. If it ain’t broke, don’fix it so who, I ask with tears in my eyes, needs barrier trials? Answer – not dyed in the wool punters, your kinda backbone of the industry. Yours , Ralph Fell.

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