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Open Letter To Gold Circle’s Madam Chair

Hindsight offers perfect clarity

Dear Madam Chair

It was refreshing to read your letter to Members outlining Gold Circle’s recent achievements and encouraging them to participate in the important upcoming elections.


Gold Circle member Peter Gibson of Durban writes in the Sporting Post Mailbag:

As a longstanding supporter of the sport of horseracing, investor in both career and bloodstock, an owner, breeder and Member of Gold Circle, I believed it necessary to raise some issues in the public (members) domain ahead of the AGM and hopefully stimulate healthy debate amongst those with an interest in the overall wellbeing of the sport in KZN.

Notwithstanding external factors such as relationships with the likes of Phumelela (and more recently, Kenilworth Racing), Tellytrack, bookmakers, gambling boards and declining turnovers, there have been major strategic decisions taken by the various Boards serving Gold Circle that might have contributed to the current state of affairs in KZN, and many would argue that it is not quite as healthy as stated.


The following is a brief summary of these major decisions (but not limited to them only):

  1. Sale of Clairwood Racecourse (Gold Circle’s only racecourse asset in KZN) and the development of the new and expansive stabling complex at Summerveld Training Centre
  2. Separation from the asset rich and hugely important Western Cape Racing which at the time shared Gold Circle’s much lauded “charitable/non-profit” philosophy
  3. Development of an incomplete Polytrack at Greyville and the subsequent narrowing of Greyville’s Turf Track with a range of unfortunate consequences
  4. Sale of Gold Circle’s share of a national bookmaking asset, Betting World, replaced by a new and parochially-based operation, Track And Ball

It is reasonable to suggest that hindsight offers perfect clarity.

However, it is hard not to argue that had an independent entity, potentially the old KZN Owners & Trainers Association, been in existence as a natural counter or sounding board (by the significant investors in racing), many of the above strategies would have been altered or stopped entirely.

2017 Vodacom Durban July finish

Furthermore, with recent events having rocked the South African horseracing industry, it is quite clear that it is entering a phase of major change, but one that also presents significant opportunities to address flaws and create a new commercial model that ensures the sustainability and vibrancy of the sport.

Historically, Gold Circle has engendered a spirit of national co-operation and can again play a leading role in this process.

In penning this letter, I write in my personal capacity only and disclose my nomination as a Director for the 2018 elections.

Ed – click here for Dr Mnganga’s open letter

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10 comments on “Open Letter To Gold Circle’s Madam Chair

  1. Brian says:

    I also don’t believe things are as rosy as suggested by the Doctor. The July for a start has become a lottery and so too has any race with a big field at Greyville. Get stuck in the back and there gores your money no matter how good the horse or jockey. I don’t enjoy the course at all and I no longer attend any races there and even watch the July on you tube no matter how long after the race.

    Quite simply the track is too narrow and actually quite s..t!

    The Frank and Jane at Scotsville now Rockafellas? Wow, who had that brain fart!

    I have no doubt there is an honest attempt at improving things but it falls far short.

    For the most part I have to agree with Mr Gibson. Some bad mistakes were made in the past and Gold Circle has, in my view, become the little brother in racing instead of leading the way.

    Not that big brother’s doing such a good job either

  2. Sandhiran says:

    Well summarised Peter Gibson . You have raised valid points which should be taken seriously . The sale of Clairwood started the cloud around this era. They went against the community of Durban South to sell the Garden Course of over 80 years which from then has just created a negative cloud over racing in KZN. Time for a change .

  3. Sean says:

    If I am wrong, then so be it, but in my humble view, you are trying to score brownie points ahead of the elections.
    This should not be aired in a public forum and if it should then why have you stayed quiet so long and only airing it ahead of the elections.
    Furthermore, I do not think you would add any value as a director because you have championed the export protocol for well over a decade with nothing to show for it.
    Now that other are getting involved there seems to be some light on the horizon.

  4. Sanjeev says:

    Well written Peter Gibson. You have hit the nail on the head. I totally agree. We need people like yourself on the board of directors.

  5. The Dark Duke says:

    I totally agree with Sean. If Gibson is to be judged by what was achieved whilst responsible for exports, members would be well advised to look elsewhere when making their choices.

    His entire motivation is self-serving

  6. RacingFanRegardless says:

    The state of horse racing in South Africa is a replication of the country and a whole – bad decisions taken over the last 25 years have resulted in continually declining revenues, no planning in the racing control succession, inept handicapping system, owners leaving the game in dismay, the few people in control making self-serving decisions, many talented jockeys and trainers plying their trade overseas – the list continues. Sounds like our country as a whole?

  7. Ernest says:

    I have heard the name Peter Gibson somewhere before, and others who are on the board or work in managerial well paid positions,I was wondering what their working day must be like, from the time they arrive, until the time they leave every day.What constructive work do they actually do to fill a whole days work.What do they actually do to get through the days work,how hard is it to do their job.
    There is only two maybe three race meetings a week.\is it so difficult to load a couple of race horses onto a truck get them to a race track and back again. What the heck do all these guys do all day!
    Cannot understand it!

  8. Brian says:

    Sean. I don’t know Mr Gibson from a bar of soap, but, if he’s trying to score brownie points, so what.
    It should be aired in public. The fact that things can and are aired in public is what helps to make those in charge accountable.
    Were it not for airing things in public what could have happened to Barends?
    You’re quite entitled to your opinion as far as his credentials and ability may be concerned,and you may well be right, I don’t know: but, to cite his failure in terms of the export protocol is concerned. many others have been an equal failure

  9. Figjam says:

    The game needs a big make over. 2 race
    Meetings a week if we lucky
    As a owner my question the the trainer is when are my horses running.
    Far to often – ‘There’s no race for them’
    Before we looked forward to 3 meetings and big fields
    I get worried every time they race on turf at Greyville
    Clairwood what a loss
    Good luck Mr Gibson. I believe you can do it

  10. VR says:

    Gold Circle was the leader in horse racing, there was a time when you could not fault the manner in which the company ran racing. Over the past 4 years there have been poor decisions made and the lack of transparency in the company and the lack of succession planning. This had left the company heading in the wrong direction, people placed in positions that don’t have the suitable grading, retrenchments of people that have had experience, employing friends of friends at high contract rates, as well as poor leadership. The accolades are great to have in winning recognition for various categories however all that does not count when there is no forward movement of the company. The voting is all a farce, it just ends up with a group of friends trying to do what they think it right however they fail to see what they not doing. Polytrack race meeting can only have 12 runners max but for heavens sake almost 60% of the races struggle to get 8 and 9 runners. Turf racing at Greyville can’t get 14 horse fields WHY because there is always problems with the track but hello 80 million was spent on the poly track and it can’t hold 40% rain, the poly track was to have gained revenue, but there are less night meetings, smaller fields, more retrenchments, more branches closing, poor service in the agents, but funny how the board does not see all this, maybe it’s time to revisit the strategic plan. The blind can’t lead the blind and still call themselves leaders.

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