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Do We Have Too Much Black Type?

Proactivity needed before it's too late?

Perhaps South African horseracing’s powers-that-be should be making adjustments to our proliferation of black-type races before we come under pressure to reassess and reassign our graded races

The International Cataloguing Standards and International Statistics 2019 (ICC) yearbook has recently been released, totalling some 354 pages of data for the worldwide horse racing industry in 2018.

For those not familiar with this book it is an extension of the Longines Rankings for the World’s Best Racehorse, which usually gets a lot of press.

As usual, this book is unlikely to be read by many but it has some very useful information in it which shows us how South Africa fits into the world of horse racing. The book can be found here.

There are various requirements to meet Part 1 status which can be read on page vii of the book. Part 1 confers Graded and Black Type status on a country. Graded races run in Part 2 countries receive only Black Type Status.

Read more here

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6 comments on “Do We Have Too Much Black Type?

  1. Barry Irwin says:

    I agree. I think that if the export protocol is ever straightened out and South African horses are more exposed on a regular basis, this issue will become more apparent. But nowadays, since only a few SA horses are exported each year, it is not a topic on very many racing folks’ minds. As one who has exported several South African horses around the world, it is my belief that it takes a Grade 1 winner in South Africa to cut it outside of The Republic. I think South African can develop horses that are capable of racing at the top levels in the USA, Australia and Europe, but only if shuttling becomes a reality, as the impediment is based strictly on a lack of bloodlines quality. An infusion of better stock is required. A few SA breeders are stepping up to the plate, but SA currency and export status make it tough to compete internationally at present.

  2. Tony Mincione says:

    The actual usefulness of “black type” is, well, nothing if you think about it. It’s a salesman’s gimmick, just as the size of the font you might have used in the old Yellow Pages directory. It’s only used in sales catalogues, and it gives buyers a visual guide to measure (in a glance) the amount of bold face capitals on a page and judge (presumably) the performances there represented.

    I once saw a page where each Dam had only produced a single filly spanning well over a quarter century. However, each one had won something like 10 races. There was barely any print on that page compared to any other, but it was the strongest by a mile in that book.

    I agree with Barry Irwin although I’ll add that it’s surprising how well South African horses have done overseas up until JJ The Jet Plane and Variety Club. Suddenly things look much harder again, although the value must be higher than it’s ever been.

  3. Jay August says:

    Tony, I’m not sure bold type in the Yellow pages is an entirely apt analogy, Perhaps ISO compliance or accreditation would be a better one as it indicates that one meets some minimum global standard. Not entirely necessary to run your small scale local business, but very necessary if you wish to compete globally.

    Semantics aside though, it would be depressing if we were finally to get the export protocols resolved only to find that the next hurdle, our Part 1 status, was under threat. It’s a very easy issue to resolve though, and not in any way the obstacle that the export protocols pose.

  4. Brad says:

    They used to print the MR ratings in the catalogues which i think is far more of a guide line than BT . A 3rd place in a listed race with a MR 65 or a non black type mare with a merit rating of 92 what do you choose ? I think that BT races should be done away for 2 yo races as it really only provides for a small portion of the annual crop . I am not sure if our feature racing calendar is any different to the rest of the world but if it isn’t not sure if we need to shot ourselves in the foot . I would like to see the use of MR back in the catalogues.

    1. karel says:

      We produced the catalogues for the Vintage Sale from the start (1998) and suggested ratings were included.
      That lasted a few years, until vendors cottoned on and complained.
      Lionel decided to remove the ratings.
      Vintage has been the only sales company to show ratings.

      In the UK Tatts shows ratings in catalogues for horses in training and mares (I think), not in yearling catalogues.

      We have for ages now published the Buyers Guide for all yearling and 2yo sales, which has ratings for dams and siblings, by distance categories!
      Didn’t you know?

  5. Jay August says:

    Brad, I think you correctly diagnose the problem with BT in SA, but perhaps prescribe incorrect treatment. The ICC rules are followed and agreed globally. SA cannot stand alone on that score as that would be fatal to the industry over the longer term.

    What should happen is to align our BT to ensure that only races which had the highest average MR were awarded Graded status. That way you wont have an MR92 horse not getting black type while an MR65 horse does. An MR in a catalogue is unlikely to mean much to a foreign buyer.

    This alignment also can not be achieved by simply up-rating the average MR in a Grade 1 race as was attempted with the Cape Derby, and which failed after appeal. Races which fail to attract a valid class of horse do not deserve Graded status and Grade 1 status should be restricted to a handful of races only.

    SA has some unique circumstances with its feature race program but conforming to global standards is not shooting oneself in the foot. We simply have more Graded races and BT than most other major countries.

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