A shift from the blame game to the fame game.
Is that an unnecessarily cynical response to the news that a South African Horseracing Hall Of Fame will be launched on the eve of the 2019 Sun Met?
The focus on what we perceive that Joe Average Punter would imagine to be a priority has generally never really been in sync with horseracing officialdom’s own agendas and their seemingly unsolicited – no matter how well intentioned – initiatives are thus often treated with some circumspection.
It has been a fascinating few weeks watching the exuberant Deez Dyanand travelling South Africa on the Betting World roadshow, meeting and greeting players in far-flung outlets and realising their dreams in some instances.
While not necessarily our viewing of choice, it has been an interesting exercise of arms-length observation – not only wondering how the energetic Deez keeps the enthusiasm going at his age – but also realising how so many people don’t seem to have bosses or conventional office hours. And how horseracing also appears to have taken a back seat to the lucky numbers games for many of these very ordinary people.
Is it because with numbers, everybody has a fair start – and an equal shout? And there is no inside or stable information, handicapping, form or anything else unnecessarily complicated that may give one more informed clever guy the edge over the other?
And while pondering the topic of a Hall Of Fame and its target market, have any of these passionate numbers players ever heard of – or even give a damn – about Tiger Wright, Mazarin or In Full Flight?
Up to now, Hall Of Fame has been a poetically licenced figurative reference used by us and reserved for great performances – Basil Marcus, Garth Puller, Jeff Lloyd, Sea Cottage, Politician, London News and Horse Chestnut have all been on the receiving end of our semantic accolades over the past half century.
Even Derreck David got the nod after he rode five winners on the Champ de Mars card in July 2015, to join his countrymen Anton Marcus, Felix Coetzee, Johnny Geroudis and Kelvin Jupp in a rare feat on the island.
And it’s not a brand new concept.
Restoring the traditions and ethos of the game was introduced by the now retired longstanding Cape racing administrator Rodney Dunn, who initiated the honouring the legends facility at Kenilworth Racecourse where the likes of Stanley Amos, Terrance Millard and Peter Kannemeyer were acknowledged. But the honours board initiative has not changed any attitudes or customer realities and even Rodney Dunn eventually left the game he loved a disappointed man.
Even looking back at the establishment of the SA Sports Hall Of Fame in 2006, under the directorship of former Springbok star Naas Botha and partnered by Vodacom, the declared aim there was to motivate and inspire young South African sportsmen and sportswomen of all ages, races and cultures to strive for excellence and build a sport legacy. It’s achievements are difficult to measure – but it had to be relaunched in 2016 – if that says anything.
But the racing media’s opinion really matters not.
Beyond the punting public, ours is the only sector of this wonderful game that receives no industry acknowledgement at Equus since the same guys who are trumpeting the Hall Of Fame decided to pull the plug on the mud stirrers, aka the independent racing media, ever daring to aspire to any form of recognition for doing what is a thankless job – most days.
But let’s not be negative. Let’s give the initiative a chance.
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