Europe’s richest race, the Qatar Prix De L Arc de Triomphe, will play host at Longchamp over this weekend to a range of international dignitaries from various walks of racing and social life.
While a VIP invitation is an entirely acceptable perk and frill of status in any discipline, we have seldom seen any of our ambassadors return to office and willing to talk about their experiences.
Funny – but one wonders if it is a guilt ‘trip’ mentality thing? If you have cracked the nod, tell as few people as possible. That seems to be the generally applied principle in South African racing. We have seen it year on year. And it has little to do with humility.
Myth abounds about business-class travel, extended trips and a whole lot of fun going down. Nothing wrong with that – and it’s important to network and build relationships with the industry’s movers and shakers.
But what about the priorities at home? And when does an innocent all aboard – and no doubt all above board – trip become an ill- considered PR gaffe from leaders, who should know better?
How do they possibly think so differently to the rest of us plebs – and their stakeholders and customers?
When Rome was burning, Nero was apparently fiddling.
With our National Horseracing Authority under siege, and the once good ship drifting in the most turbulent stormy waters in its history, should the Captain really be abandoning his watch– albeit for a few weeks – and taking his eye off the compass?
As Chairman of the NHA, Ken Truter has been foist into a near high-care operational management role with the sudden departure of CEO Lyndon Barends.
It’s an unenviable position to be in. But it’s a time when smart men can make names for themselves and show leadership – rather than trepidation – or hiding in faraway places.
And the NHA Board probably created the most recent monster to haunt them in the first place, through a lack of simple due diligence – and maybe another naughty case of playing spineless yes men to higher powers.
So, the only real victims are the industry and the folk with years of passion and cash invested.
And despite their gushy meaningless NHA monthly newsletters being churned out with plenty of verbosity, the ongoing aspect of injudiciously scripted press releases continue unabated.
When a KZN jockey was dragged through the public mill 6 months ago for some admittedly bad behaviour involving drugs and racecourse television sets, the resultant outcry called for some soul searching and introspection from the NHA. But little has changed.
And just as that particular release was insensitive, the latest item relating to an R80 000 penalty for trainer Paul Peter, could also have been composed with plenty more detail.
As it stands, it paints Peter as a man who ‘doped’ three horses over a period of time. Only one of them won and he got nailed with an R80 000 left hook.
Talking to the Sporting Post today, Paul informs that he is obliged in terms of the strict liability rules governing trainer responsibility for the horses in his care to take full responsibility for the administering of the Flumethasone to his three charges.
This, despite the fact that these were properly recorded in the relevant medical register of the individual horses by a Veterinary Surgeon who is vastly experienced, and is conversant with medication incubation periods and their consequences.
So Paul pleaded guilty.
Flumethasone is a corticosteroid for topical use and a schedule 4 drug. It is not a performance enhancer. Others have been convicted on similar charges in recent years.
We are not suggesting Paul Peter is an angel. He is not the first. He won’t be the last.
But half-baked information leads to worst case speculation and the image of the sport suffers in the bigger picture. And that is probably where our single biggest problem lies right now.
Enjoy the big race on Sunday – even if you’re only watching it on your second – hand tv.
Read plenty more in the latest SP Digest – click on the image below