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Concerned Owner Looks For Answers

Why is nobody talking to us?

Having lunch with a mate yesterday, who is reasonably ‘well connected’ in the Racing Industry, he shared some very disturbing news that apparently awaits  us shortly.

Owner Steve Leahy writes in the Sporting Post Mailbag and asks whether there is any truth in the speculation that Flamingo Park will be closing down?

There is also talk of stakes being reduced even further. Is this true?

We all saw what happened to the Sand Track at the Vaal – in the blink of an eye it was gone.

As an avid racing supporter and owner for a number of years, I am rather concerned – especially with the National Two Year Old Sale just around the corner.

Why have the ‘Powers’ not informed the public what is on the cards or are they waiting until after the sale?

We all know what has been happening in the Industry of late – Trainers handing their licences in, and other Trainers moving overseas and the like.

Larry Wainstein

Larry Wainstein 

The implications of what is happening affects many people!

Surely Transparency is what we need in the Industry?

Maybe a call to Larry Wainstein at the RA – our ‘eyes & ears’ of the RA Members.

Maybe he can be a little more transparent and throw some light on this???

I am seriously concerned.

Ed – the Sporting Post has avoided potentially ill-informed speculation and rather made representations over the past fortnight to various bodies, including Mr Charles Savage, whom we were informed was the Chairman of a new SA Racing Restructuring Committee.

Mr Savage has indicated that he would be prepared to answer our questions once the operators had issued their press release.

On Wednesday 7 August a follow-up enquiry elicited a response that an announcement could be imminent.

As regards the rumoured closure of Flamingo Park, we were told months ago that no firm dates or plans had been made.

Have Your Say

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23 comments on “Concerned Owner Looks For Answers

  1. Steve Reid says:

    I have been wondering how long it would take for an owner to raise this issue about the state of the nation regarding stakes. Just yesterday I was chatting to a mate who was at the Drakenstein Stallion day and I asked what the views were on the sale being affected by the very real prospect of dramatic reductions in current stakes. The answer was very little was being said and that the expectations were good horses were expected to go for money and the rest could be a problem. In other words, same as previous sales.

    I think that the title of this article would be enough to put Larry into a cold sweat. The original leader of the Concerned owners has gone from a Barbarian at the gates demanding change, to the leader of the RA following a meeting with Jooste at Gomma Gomma, to the paid job for life at 3 million a year “owner” representative. Strange that he says nothing despite being very much part and parcel of the discussions taking place concerning the possible changes in racings structures. Perhaps owners aren’t important after all? The fact that a Racing Association director is named as the apparent new Chairman of the takeover body is interesting – the same man vilified for attempting to make a run for Western Cape racing? Look how well things have worked out there.

    Steve good luck with your equine purchases at the 2yo sale, if you do indeed buy, you are a far braver man than me. You correctly recall the closing of the Vaal sand and the lack of warning prior to the NYS of that year. I was one of the mugs that bought a horse that year. The solution was given as go race in Kimberley. You couldn’t make this up. Expect no announcement before the sale, doing so would only hurt the results.

  2. Beatle says:

    Surely Durbanville should be the course to close down first – how does Cape Town even have two courses just not a viable business – I’m sure turnover in Kimberly is higher than Durbanville – plus not enough trainers in the cape to sustain two tracks

  3. Johann Liebenberg says:

    This is very concerning being owner of horses at Flamingo. So many people that relies on this course as means of income. What happens to all of them if they close this course. I can move horses around the country and do not rely on my horses as source of income, but the permanent employees, trainers, exc don’t have that luxury. Powers that be are playing with these people’s lives and future as if it is a board game.

    We are one of the most profitable centers. You take the pools last Saturday as example it was up there with all the big centers Picks six pool was R2,4million which exceeded Kenilworth on the same day. Dividends are like no other for punters.

    All we need is to have race days spread over an entire week. We only get 1x Saturday per year and the rest of our meetings on Mondays which if we are lucky are three a month. Give us opportunity to host on a Wednesday and Friday and guarantee weekly meetings and at least 2x More Saturdays a year and the entire profit centre changes.

    RA members, owners, trainers, punters and permanent employees involved needs to take a stand here. This is not acceptable in any way shape or form.

  4. bob kistnasamy says:

    I wander if Larry really has the answers to the decision on Flamingo Park. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any transparency relative to the racing powers. Be assured that we are going to lose other trainers/owners looking for “better grounds” to ply their trade.
    Indications are that there is not one individual who can take the sport forward.
    If we look at other major centres, the crowds support the industry as there is a definite structure and functions in place.
    In addition, there is proper accountability from all players in the industry.
    One need to look at our structures and see movement of certain individuals within structures. In other words, there is no bright sparks brought in.

  5. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    i note interestingly the order of the response about Flamingo’s closure ” no firm dates or plans had been made”… why would a date be necessary if there was no plan

  6. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    Now that we have the statement i wonder if Mr Savage will now answer the questions:

    Can i please ask that the following question be added:

    Has Mr Savage, a seasoned finance professional, examined the liquidity/solvency test prepared by Phumelela prior to distributions being made, as is required by the Companies Act. Would Mr Savage consider asking the CIPC and IRBA to investigate and interrogate those tests?

  7. Jamtin says:

    Don’t worry Beatle, the time will come where we will pay as owners to race each other in this country! Owners should set up their own racing stakes for each race. Find trainers who can do the job. 16 horses in a race we all race for R160,000. We will obviously have to punt to try and keep our racing expenses going….. We are in no-mans land as owners and breeders! R160,000 per race we can pay down to 8 places at least. If you have 10 horses in a race meeting you in for 100K. It’s a bad day if you do not run a couple of places! Surely we can take control of our own racing with betting,TV rights etc. Let’s go the full hog, let’s buy our own race course…. Team up with a Casino Group who will let us do betting on their licenses and we might have a chance to make some real money when we race our horses. (What a dream….) IT CAN HAPPEN….. but okay…… a dream…..

    Sorry, I digressed Beatle. To answer your question, I think all race courses will be sold off shortly. I guess they will keep one in each province going. Less racing days and less breeding and buying of horses. We will become like Kenya and Zimbabwe. KZN might keep two tracks because of their loyal clients’ support. Pretoria might be the place to build a new race course….. Around a massive Shopping Center maybe?? Attract crowds from there and get new owners to come into the sport. We can sell percentages in horses running, right there on course that same day. Imagine that!! Get owners in like that to buy small percentage in a horse. The horse could even run on that same day!?? Another way for breeders to sell their own horses. Have a Stud room where people can go into and roam the room and decide from which Stud Farm they want to buy such small share and in which horses they want to buy?? Trainers can be the sales people, assisting new comers with making informed decisions. This way they can have new owners in their yards! All of this can happen 2 hours before racing starts, before every race meeting…… then these new owners can watch their horse run. Food and drinks will flow, enthusiasm will be created at such a new level. The Rainbow Nation can be united at each race meeting……

    THE ONLY light (if there is a light still on) is that we export to the world or Europe for that matter. If this is not successful, racing in SA will be for the ELITE. I do not mean any ill feelings towards the ELITE, do not get me wrong. They will be the only ones that can afford to stay in the sport and race each other!

    When last did the RA do anything for their loyal members? Oh, how stupid of me, I forgot; 🙁 they sold us shares at preferential prices. Everyone including myself lost there boots on this generous gesture from our esteemed RA. Off course they did not know that the bomb was just about to burst….. No way!! They really felt sorry for the losses of their members! They made a hell of a lot of money for themselves to get those shares off loaded to us. (At least they did not do their boots and rather left it for us as owners to absorb). CORRUPTION from TOP to BOTTOM!!

    Get all these f%^&rs OUT and start from scratch! Because, we as South Africans can’t see the sun shine on each other and because we are so scared of saying it like it is, we are captive to this abuse! When will TRAINERS realize OWNERS AND BREEDERS are their GOLD and the sooner these three parties can pull together, ONLY then will it change. No owners no jobs for trainers and all their employees. The Owners and Breeders are FUNDING everything! I am afraid trainers, their employees and breeders will one by one fall away if we do not stand together…………

    No comments needed guys, I really feel so much better for typing this post! What a great stress reliever! Ha ha ha ha.

    Take care my fellow Owners, Breeders and Trainers. You all going to need it!!

  8. Pops says:

    First they came for the Groom’s Accommodation money
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Groom

    Then they came for the punter’s Tax Money
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a punter

    Then they came for the R A member’s loose change
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Racing Association member

    Then they came again for the Racecourses
    And there were no more Trainers or Jockeys left to speak up

  9. Jamtin says:

    Yes, Pops!!!! That’s why I say South Africans can’t see the sun shine on each other and because we are so scared of saying it like it is, we are captive to this abuse!

    You right, soon nothing will be left! Mike De Kock, Joey Ramsden……. when these guys leave you must know we have serious problems!! How many trainers have thrown in the towel in the past 2 years? How many Breeders closed down or scaled down completely? Where are we going if exports are blocked this time around? 20 years I have been hearing we will export our horses…. When?? This year end?? I doubt it, hope I am wrong!

  10. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    The Jooste legacy lives on….

  11. Concerned says:

    Flamingo park is the 2nd oldest race course in the country. If they close where will all the horses go to what will happen to the grooms and families that grew up here. They have nowhere to go. Trainers that has been here for 40yrs or more can’t just pack up and go. This track is not running at a loss I agree close Durbanville
    They don’t even have the noms and fields like we have here. We make a living here and don’t want to starve like some smaller guys in the bigger centre’s. Get rid of the people earning 4bar a year .
    It is not our fault that racing was completely mismanaged

  12. Beatle says:

    Well said Jamtin and Graham – no truer words spoken

  13. James Goodman says:

    Is it not anticipated that Kimberley will close at the end of January 2020?
    Trainers have been offered stables at the Vaal or Fairveiw?
    The shrinking horse, trainer and owner population is not being addressed by the people in power.
    The NHRA has been instrumental in many mistakes in policy. Examples are Starting stall procedures that do not benefit the industry or the horses. Mistakes in the handicapping guidelines which have caused knee jerk reactions. Laboratory burn downs and lack of credibility. Stipendiary stewards lack of consistancy. Expenses that are unnecessary etc.
    Phumelela has devalued by 1000% since Jooste abduction.This has diluted the Racing trust kitty which was made up of Phumelela shares.Instead of growing racing and the fan base they have poured Millions into Racing Its a Rush ,which it certainly isnt !!
    Telly track ponders on with no hint of trying to entice new punters and this is exasperated by multitudes of new product which has not been thought through. Examples are , Futsal,Racing Roulette Soccer bets that have no ending( Time bomb) and the most annoying of all, Carryover policies.
    I have been in racing a long time and i am very concerned.
    And not afraid of saying what needs to be said!!

    1. Editor says:

      James, we have asked Phumelela about Kimberley and told no firm date.

  14. Jamtin says:

    Mr Editor, “no firm date” that can only mean one thing, YES, Kimberley are being closed! They just need to confirm the date!!

  15. Christo says:

    Racing is a joke. The people currently running it is the old brigade. They only their for their own pockets. Lucky I have moved to soccer betting, what a pleasure. Enjoying it don’t have to worry about jockeys pulling horses, trainers giving info on horses that don’t even stand a chance, race course facilities that is bad, grooms striking. The whole setup is bad. My heart goes out to the owners, not the RA that is a joke. I remember and loved kimberley racing nice payouts always. But nothing compare to europa soccer. Profesional run, quality and exciting. I think close racing down in South Africa.

  16. Cliffie says:

    James
    They have not mentioned to us anything about stables at another centre. Why they want to close Flamingo I would not know we are not running at a loss turnovers are good. Some of us do love and care extremely well for our horses unlike others. I have been here now 40yrs where to now.
    Where will all the so called last saloon horses go to. Only sand track left. The track and grounds were given to us for the purpose of racing by the late Mr. Oppenheimer. There are about 350 people and families living on course some born here died here WHERE to now.
    At 62 you can’t just pack up and go somewhere else. Make no mistake I think I can hold my own anywhere in the country but do we have to put down all our pets and retired horses. Hell will freeze over before I will resort to that. I hope sanity will prevail and somebody can come to our rescue. Please we not all the same at Flamingo.
    Why then not close Durbanville. Cape don’t need 2 courses they don’t even get fields big enough to race.
    Please think about this properly you cannot play with people’s lives like this(Phumelela )

  17. Mich says:

    I suggest bringing in a top flight racing administrator with his/her team from one of the successful racing jurisdictions ie Hong Kong or Australia to oversee an overhaul of SA racing.An outsider would be impartial and see the current incumbents for what they are

  18. Wayne Fouche says:

    What a disgrace to think that there could even be thoughts about closing Flamingo Park. Cliffie’s on the button.He and his fellow trainers and owners need all the support they can get.

  19. Beatle says:

    Cannot agree more with Cliffie – close Durbanville it is a waste – Phumelela took over a sinking ship when taking over Cape racing – get out of Cape racing and your losses will be less – common sense

  20. Brendon says:

    There is an urgent need for the wrecking balls of Phumelela, the NHA and the RA to either step up or step down.

    There appears to be no end to the value destruction. Phumelela is responsible for its own value destruction and wiping out its equity. Now, Phumelela is starting to make inroads into wiping out the equity value and lives of others in the industry, e.g. Breeders, trainers, grooms, employees, et al, are all on the receiving end without realising the impact of the wrecking ball.

    Yes, Phumelela is the one that requested us to stand together, yet in the same week they inform Flamingo Park that your days are numbered. Phumelela appears to be so fragmented, it’s difficult to understand how this animal is going to reconcile with itself.

    The questions that remains unanswered by Phumelela, include:

    1) Do you have a credible business case or a model that you have developed to objectively evaluate whether Flamingo Park should be closed?
    2) Did you engage owners, trainers, jockeys, work riders, employees, grooms, punters when this evaluation and business case was compiled?
    3) Did you engage Government on the proposed closure and its impact on the community?
    4) If you used the same evaluation criteria on all the racecourses in SA, would Flamingo Park be the first racecourse that you would close down?
    5) What definitive steps did you take as the operator from a business development perspective to enhance the business of Flamingo Park?
    6) Is the sand track not a value proposition that sets its apart from other tracks?
    7) What is the trigger for Phumelela to announce the 2nd biggest hole in Kimberley? And why was this not communicated?

    Peoples livelihoods are at stake and the casual response and lack of urgency from Phumelela reaffirm the value that they place on the lives and the contribution of all stakeholders who ultimately pay their huge salaries and bonuses.

    At what point is Phumelela going to be magnanimous and acknowledge that the failings of the industry are due primarily to their leadership and management and not external factors. And step down in the interest of 120,000 to 180,000 breadwinners.

    Ed, as this week progresses, we need stakeholders to mobilise with mass action to take control of their destiny. The Eiffel Tower has their own challenges and agendas that is independent of the urgent need to engage, lead and rescue the industry.

  21. Cliffie says:

    Thank you Bredon we all agree with you.
    Ask any jockey where the best track is at the moment with being level and not dangerous at at all. Flamingo sand track.

  22. Shane says:

    Some years ago I was part of a company that requested government to legalise live greyhound racing as a betting product in SA..

    We dealt extensively with the NHA (drug testing, best practice, and rules of racing etc), gambling board, Phumelela (David Attenboroug – possible comingling and “churner” product to compliment and boost horse racing) ..and we researched greyhound racing across the globe from Ireland, USA, to Australasia..

    What many don’t know is that Greyhound racing was very successful and popular in SA until 1948 (centred in the Joburg/Pretoria region and very popular with mineworkers) when the anti-gambling nationalist party banned the sport-cum-industry..in years thereafter the SPCA got onto the bandwagon to keep the pastime band..albeit racing was widely practised across SA ..and I hear it still is! ..I no longer have any involvement though..

    In short, Greyhound racing is huge in countries like Australia (more than 100 tracks) but has come under stress in other destinations as has horse racing – battling to survive against cost-effective virtual racing etc and a vociferous animal rights sector..What people also don’t know is that greyhounds and coursing (often illegally) is very popular in local African culture with thousands of animals being kept for sport and illicit gambling in many cases! – thousands turn out to watch coursing and racing events in hidden destinations..

    While my involvement was more about the welfare benefits to the dogs under controlled racing on licensed tracks; there was a school of thought that believed it could greatly boost horse racing and turnovers – share venues and therefore costs and exploit the historical interest that the majority population sector show for greyhounds! In many of our discussions dating back 15 yrs, there was always a feeling that horse racing was heading for troubled waters! ..I still believe that tracks could’ve been flourishing dual purpose venues where racing could’ve occured on a “one greyhound race..then a horse race..then a greyhound race” basis..dog owners could’ve become shareholders in horses and vice versa..dog racing is “intimate..fast..and exciting” ..and affordable enough for the average citizen to get involved..substantial and sensible business plans were in place..that would’ve definitely prevented the closure of horse tracks…the SPCA and parliament made certain though it never happened…

    ..while illegal racing and clandestine betting worth hundreds of millions is of no value to broader society today. I was also once a colour holder in horse racing and had horses with Arthur Miller and Peter Millar (PE and Kimberley) …sadly, both are deceased today but even at that stage..I saw the writing was on the wall! …innovation and proactive strategising is urgently needed..the sport doesn’t have much time left! …

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