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The Greatest Thing…

If everybody's taking it easy, how do we assess it?

The concept of Barrier Trials are now a well established way of racing life in KwaZulu-Natal and have been in operation for fifteen months. But is the tool as helpful to Joe Punter as we are led to believe?

Barrier Trials are mandatory for first-timers and horses rested 150 days or more who wish to race in KZN.

Despite resistance from certain quarters that they are really an expensive gimmick in trying times – and merely provide a nice gallop in a horse’s training programme – they have stood the test of short time and have outlived the expectations of many who thought they’d fizzle and die.

In November last year the National Horseracing Authority’s Arnold Hyde confirmed the introduction of drug testing for trialists – against some resistance from certain participants.

“We are trying to assimilate race conditions and are obliged to consider the best interests of the welfare of the horse, the safety of the jockey and also the interests of the connections and the racing public. We need to play an active role in the supervision of the trials as we do with racing in general,” he added.

But Hyde’s reference to assimilation of race conditions doesn’t seem to include an obligation on the part of the trainer to ensure that the triallist is stretched or actually outwardly demonstrates any ability.

Reading an official race is an art – but now they throw a cloud over proceedings and punters are expected to find the information constructive and beneficial?

Listening to two staunch locals waxing lyrical in the post-race interview after the Scottsville first race on Wednesday, it is not difficult to understand why the trials are probably here to stay.

Trainer of the winning first-timer, Wave, Gavin van Zyl, a vastly experienced former jockey and top trainer, told interviewer and Gold Circle Director Paul Lafferty, that ‘Barrier Trials are the greatest thing for horseracing’. That must be music to Laff’s ears!

Van Zyl made his statement while conceding that Wave had taken it easy in his barrier trial on 30 January at Scottsville – which he won.

“That would have been a difficult barrier trial to assess. A  lot of horses were taking it easy, and so were we. So one would have to go on improvement after the trial and possibly following the money,” added the experienced horseman.

Van Zyl added that barrier trials were being conducted for the benefit of the public and had a nice last outpost type swipe against any prospects of national unity for the game.

“We are trying to grow the game of horseracing. And what we do in Gold Circle country is our business.”

It’s good to see racing people with the backbone to at least speak their mind!

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8 comments on “The Greatest Thing…

  1. Ralph Fell says:

    Can there be any greater exercise in futility?. The article concedes that certain horses are given an ‘easy’ and van Zyl suggests ‘watching the betting.’ The number of horses taking part is miniscule in terms of the number of horses racing in South Africa which begs the question – why have the other centres not followed suit? And as for ‘growing the game, I take the 5th.

  2. Rod Mattheyse says:

    Yo taking Laff’s view and Van Zyl is akin to getting the Watson’s and the Gupta’s to pronounce the verdict on State Capture

  3. hilton witz says:

    I repeat myself on this topic when it first reared its ugly head that if you want to do something then do it properly or dont do it at all..Barrier trials in natal in their current format only confuse the punter ,help certain trainers sell horses they have not placed and make bookmakers rich..You cannot measure a horses ability if firstly you do not know what it has done before the trial and between the trial and the race ..secondly you cant measure a horses ability if you dont treat the barrier trial like you would a race and thirdly many times when you have unraced horses trialing against each other you dont know any of the horses ability at all so you cant take anything from that trial..You want to be transparent then do what has been done since the beginning of time and let the public or newspaper journalists come and watch and report to the punters when the above trainers work their horses with other horses of proven ability ..Do you think these punting yards have a bet on what they have seen in the trials or who they have worked with back home?I RECALL mr lafferty saying that we need to be transparent to grow pools which is great but ask the punters WHAT THEY WANT instead of giving them what you think they want….You have plenty journalists and racing experts at gold circle who should be going to track on fast mornings watching work and speaking to trainers about the well being of their runners that are due to race as punters want it from the trainers and from the jockeys perspective as it gives it far more creditation than any current presenters opinion… Why not start off with jockeys like anton marcus and warren kennedy going through the card and why they took certain rides etc instead of being told the normal chat we hear every week from presenters…this whole transparency issue has to be done properly not half heartedly like in its current state…Fields are out a good 5 days before race day so there really is no excuses //

  4. Andre says:

    In reply to Hilton post… I agree with his sentiments 100%.Hilton knowledge of the game is second to none and as a punter who plays every single day barrier trials are a waste of time to the every day punter… Go into any tote and take note of how many seasoned punters are watching the barriers trials… Not many.. If any at all.If it provided a valuable source of information do you not think punters from Pumelela would not have put pressure for other regions to do the same.

  5. Mac Naidoo says:

    You calling Barrier trials the greatest thing please don’t fool yourselves. This does not help punters in any way.

  6. Louis Goosen says:

    Barrier Trials are a farce. The best analogy on this issue and indeed, on many issues in Racing, such as the Assessment plates in Gauteng would be the age old bar of soap versus the 100 000 dollars scenario.

    After a long hot day in the sun, a group on Safari returns to the Camp, where each person has a choice between a bar of soap and $100 000. The absurdly wealthy persons in the group (who would be the very small minority) would choose the bar of soap, simply because money is no object to them. They have tons of it.
    The rest of the group (the vast majority) would grab the $100 000 and go and have a soapless shower.

    Yet, it is for that bar of soap minority, for whom all of the rules and decisions are made, in Racing. The vast majority are ignored and must fall in line. Yet, it is that very vast majority who make up the fields, who create the turnover and who sustain the Industry.

    Racing has that as its main problem and until Racing learns to respect and consult with their customers, it will remain on a one way, downward spiral. In Racing , a handful of people actually believe that only themselves and nobody else, know what is good for Racing. These people have a sense of entitlement second to none. No other opinions will be considered nor entertained.

    Barrier Trials are a poor reflection of SA Racing and mostly, of our integrity. Barrier Trials, as they are currently run, will only increase the perception that Racing is crooked.

    In this article, I have viewed the interview by Paul Lafferty with Gavin van Zyl. Listen to the interview again… and then go and watch the following horses Barrier Trials and then their first run. Both can be easily found on YouTube.

    Then you please come back here and tell me how the Punters and the Owners of those horses benefitted from those Barrier Trials. In one of them, the jockey in the Barrier Trial, would have got at least 6 months for that blatant and fraudulent ride, were it a race. You have a look, you be the judge…

    The horses are –

    (Perhaps ED can post the Barrier Trial and the first run for each horse here ?)

    1. Editor says:

      Yessiricanboogie Barrier Trial


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