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Time To Wield The Axe, Mr Stuart!

Accountability is now needed

The Sporting Post doesn’t take stick often for standing up for the racing operators.

But our suggestion that we give new Phumelela CEO John Stuart a chance to show his mettle after his refreshing walkabout on the Vaal track just three days after taking office two weeks ago is probably already coming back to bite us.

Maybe it’s not Mr Stuart’s fault. But the man in the hotseat surely needs to show that he means business and that the walkabout wasn’t just a politicking show of goodwill and feelgood ra ra.

This comes after Thursday’s race meeting at the Vaal Racecourse was abandoned after the third race due to an uneven and inconsistent track.

On Tuesday Phumelela issued a refreshingly proactive press release stating that Thursday’s race meeting on the Vaal Classic Track would go ahead as scheduled.

It advised that after a track inspection the same day, it was unanimously agreed that the track had recovered ‘well enough for racing to go ahead’.

John Stuart – needs accountability from his lieutenants

The track inspection on Tuesday was carried out by among others, Alfie Little, National Operations Manager of Phumelela Gaming and Leisure (PGL), Craig Mayhew, representing trainers, Chief Stipendiary Steward Lyle Anderson, PGL management, the track managers as well as the senior jockey on duty, Deon Sampson.

So what happened in 48 hours?

Who knows, but after three races and the apparent sad loss of a horse, racing was abandoned just eight days ahead of the Grand Heritage.

The fact is that the expertise of Phumelela’s track management gets a massive no confidence vote from all of the callers who contacted us.

“Their latest results are out due out on Friday, but sadly for punters, owners, trainers and grooms, today’s Vaal results are gloomy. Phumelela have to make changes. Fire the responsible people. Accountability goes hand in hand with a job title and salary in the real world. Stop making excuses and condoning poor performance from management,”said one trainer who suggested  that the morale of his colleagues and personnel was already low.

Another highly placed industry insider said that the problem was that the initial encouraging show of transparent and bold innovative communication from Stuart’s new management team had to be supported by facts and common sense – and people with passion and commitment.

“Middle management level are weak. They are in jobs they are not capable of doing. People don’t create a meeting cancellation by intention. They do it because they are out of their depth and poorly managed themselves. Mr Stuart needs to show he has the backbone – otherwise he will go down the drain with them in the medium term. And probably the rest of us the way we are going right now.”

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11 comments on “Time To Wield The Axe, Mr Stuart!

  1. Vijay says:

    Racing is going the the way government works punters are the losser at the end

  2. Ralph Fell. says:

    In my decade + employed by a corporate bookmaker until 2016, it sadly became patently obvious that the majority of directors/senior management cared not one iota about horseracing. A complete lack of passion and interest abounded. An individual was recruited for a senior position in Gauteng who, for 20 years prior, had been employed by Clicks. He understood a swinger to be something witb sexual connotations. The most salivating amongst the suits occurred when ‘numbers’ read Lotto was introduced as the bet became a licence to print money and required only the start up outlay. Horse racing soon became an irritation as numbers generates substantial profits and needs only a robot at 4K a month to process the bets. I have made peace with this and try to enjoy the noble sport whilst it appears to be in its death throes.

  3. Dawid says:

    Ja. I warned you all on 28 September 2018 that the track was no good.

  4. Brian says:

    “Middle management level are weak”? There’s your answer Mr Stuart

  5. Louis Goosen says:

    Vaal Sand took the pressure off in Winter, allowed for Spring Treatments and was a standby when more time was needed.

    Racing nowadays is mostly the result of a comedy of errors. In this modern mistake ridden era of very biased courses in terms of draw, it is mindboggling to consider that these same esteemed number crunching rocket scientists want to now bring in an all weather surface on the INSIDE of the Inside course at Turffontein…..

  6. Theo Kriel says:

    I’m a small owner (only two 50% horses). Both would have run today. One was suspended for 60 days due to bleeding. Paid two months training fees just for today. Had to pay for nominations and declarations. My trainer did not nominate my horses during the week as we thought they will run today. Next possible races for them is in November (due to distance, MR and track – suppose all Vaal races will be moved to Turffontein – who know’s?). I as a poor owner must pay another month without a possible income.

    Obviously the NHRA will either fire or suspend (with a huge fine), the incompetent person/s for bringing South African horse racing in disrepute all over the world. What is our status outside our borders? CTS has a great RtR sale coming but I cannot invest further in a Titanic. I’m simply disgusted.

  7. John Mansoor says:

    Telly Track should be moved to DSTV’s channel 122, with immediate effect.. Horse racing in South Africa has become a laugh-a-minute.

  8. Chris Swart says:

    All management. It’s the specific responsibility of top management to review and apply cross checks to validate reports in corporates.

    Let’s stop laying the blame around and passing on the buck.

    1. Who filed the track reports ?
    2. Who applied the cross checks ?
    3. Who ignored the reports from the senior jockey?
    4. What is the track record of the manager in question ?
    5. Have there been complaints in the track manager’s employment history ?
    6. If 5 and 6 are found with liability then ask, who ignored the reports ?
    7. Expect owner litigation
    8. Expect owners to leave or boycott dangerous venues.

    Maine Chance had to lose a horse with a career ending injury and Chesney tragically lost La Lucia.

    Look at what they’ve lost. Look at what small owners like Theo lost and litigate. Class action to teach share holders that who they entrust their investment with should be above reproach.

  9. Jess K says:

    Was having a chat with a couple of horseracing mates a few weeks ago and someone made the statement, “if you had another agenda and wanted to dilute local horseracing, you would do what the Operator has been doing over the past few years”.

  10. Carl says:

    Racing would not be in this ludicrous position, had Phumalela in their foolishness or greed, not sold off Gosforth Park and Newmarket courses. Surely previous, and not current management is to blame, due to their haste and lack of vision .

  11. Joe2 says:

    I went to Turffontein to watch my horse running last week and was disgusted at the smell
    wafting over the track from the local dump.Its bad enough driving through the back streets of Turffontein to get to the track and then you have to endure this disgusting smell when u get there.
    Perhaps its time to move my horses to Durban or Cape Town and be satisfied with watching on TV.
    What a mess.

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