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‘Racing Will Survive!’

'It's bigger than any individual or group of people'

There were many conversations around the National 2yo Sales ground about the state of our ‘industry’ last week.

Writing ins his eNews, John Freeman says that was mostly from breeders expressing doubt as they face investing in the production of another new crop, it’s part of every farmer’s process “am I doing the right thing?”.

Auctioneer Andrew Miller gives the thumbs up (Pic – Candiese Marnewick)

This is not the first time our industry has faced an economic crisis and/or political interference and upheaval.

In my 45 odd years working in this game I have seen worse – much worse.

I was reassured back then, and I pass that message of reassurance today; racing is bigger than any individual or group of people – we will always breed and race horses; our passion and love for horses and the competition of racing will never be beaten down.

2019 Equus Champion Owner Chris van Niekerk’s speech at the Equus Award hit the nail on the head.His speech was a strong reminder of why we need to ignore nay-saying ‘crocodiles’  and industry doom merchants.

He agreed that people in racing had the right to question and get angry but he called for unity, saying that ‘things are never as bad as they seem’.

“Nobody should be negative.”

Coming from a man who has invested so much and done so much for racing I salute Chris for his commitment and input.

His award as champion owner well deserved.

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16 comments on “‘Racing Will Survive!’

  1. Mgram says:

    Spoken by someone who derives his livelihood from horses it is no surprise that Freeman talks up the continuance of racing. Could I enquire exactly what was ” much worse ” than the current scenario that we find ourselves in?

  2. Leon Smuts says:

    Mr Freeman might be right but he should not forget that in the past there was an undeniable commitment to racing which is not entirely evident at present. This could and should change and then his point will be materially more valid.

  3. Brian says:

    It may well survive and I very much doubt that any of us in this forum or any discerning punter wants racing to die.

    Just the opposite in fact. Which is why there is such an outcry in this forum.

    Negativity has nothing to do with it.

    It’s about getting rid of those that lowed this to happen and replacing them with Positive, note,positive, people to take racing forward

    We haven’t heard anything from anyone in that regard.

  4. Robert Beckett says:

    The eNews report of John Freeman was a short but fascinating read.

    The undercurrent of his report shows that most of the breeding industry do not harbour his optimism.

    His report resonates as a war cry by a warrior to his troops who are about to go into battle with them having no hope of success.

    No matter how much Mr Freeman sings the praises of the industry and how wonderful his past 45 years have been, he should know that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  5. Jim. says:

    Well today at turffontein maidens raced for 95 k. Unless I can no longer read a racecard on Saturday at turffontein maidens will be racing for 75 k. Wonderful.

    1. Editor says:

      The ordinary maidens are R95k
      Maiden Handicaps, which are being trialled on the Highveld, are R75k

  6. Jim says:

    thanks ed

  7. Steve Reid says:

    If owners are prepared to race for the equivalent of stakes paid in 2012, then perhaps racing will survive.

  8. Prasheen Harrimohan says:

    Firstly thanks Mr editor for ur help. Just to touch on another problem for us punters, who do we contact on tt to report the issues we encounter with the number 1 and 1a horses for USA racing. We are being confused the reason being is if USA has 1 and 1a horses in a race at the bottom of the tt screen if the 1a is Scratched the 1a becomes number 1 the tote win and place dividend is shown as number 1a then in turn the tote betting of number 2 is shown under number 1 and number 3 under number 2. It doesn’t make sense it just confuses us as punters can u find someone who can assist us Mr editor. I know I may sound like a whinner but it is our money that is keeping the Industry going so it’s nice for us to point out factors that we are not satisfied with. Thanks will be awaiting a response Mr editor

    1. Editor says:

      Will ask the Tote guys to give us some guidance

    2. Editor says:

      Hi Prasheen

      A Phumelela spokesman advises that they have set up a team to look at this to try and rectify the issue.
      ‘Hopefully the root cause will be established, once the said issue arises again, and can then be fixed.
      Kind regards’

  9. Brendon says:

    For the benefit of those who have not been around for 45 years in the industry, it would be appreciated if Mr. Freeman could elaborate on:

    “In my 45 odd years working in this game I have seen worse – much worse”

    Has Mr. Freeman seen racing been controlled by:

    1) More questionable characters than Mr. Jooste and his fellow shareholders, board members and hand-picked management to pursue the narrow interests of a few individuals?
    2) An operator that does not need to justify the incurrence of wasteful expenditure, unnecessarily flying around the world (in luxury) and living in hotels (like the Oyster Box), paying themselves massive bonuses and salaries for an ordinary (arguably substandard, based on the financial crisis that the Phumelela finds itself in) contribution to the company and the industry?
    3) A more disinterested shareholder base in the operator that is unwilling to convene a shareholder meeting to pass a vote of no confidence to remove the board of directors and management that should have been cut loose long before they started?

    This is the classic case of the tail wagging the dog! The entire industry is at the mercy of the tail, a non-verbal communication appendage, that has failed us and the industry yet it remains in control.

    PS. “Things are never as bad as they seem,” a quote from Chris van Niekerk’s Equus speech.

    I think Mr. van Niekerk was giving us a heads up that its worse, not better. And we should listen to him as he probably also sustained heavy losses from the Steinhoff saga by not listening to the German authorities (in December 2015, two years prior to the bubble bursting) when they publicly announced the launch of a criminal and tax investigation into Steinhoff’s accounting treatment of certain transactions.

  10. Mgram says:

    I fancy the far worse times refered to by Freeman are personal. I have no doubt that this industry has never been in worse shape.

  11. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    The breeders are not the “Mcdonalds” bench mark of SA racing. Breeders highlights the quality and there is nothing wrong with it ( world class ) . Thats the problem when you look from the top down……You don’t see the discontent at grass roots level, if the bottom falls out then how does an owner earn ? unless they are buying the breeding then the stakes are not important. All round the world the industry is screaming for more punters but they are walking….They have cottoned onto the “top down” way racing has always been. The pick 6 is the “Mcdonalds” ( Almost a cultural pastime in SA ) So in August the P6 numbers ( very rough ) were 25 mil in the pool ( I left the 8th at VAAL out….field race ) up until today ( 20th ) 1620 tickets won ( rounded up ). There has been 3 carry overs ( since the announcement of the Summer Cup ) totalling 3.8 mil so 21 odd mil paid out Over 19 days this equates to 85 tickets a day winning R 15000….this is an average ( very rough ) over the month. ( Accepted the tickets will be percentages so there could a lot more smaller winners on the day but they are sharing R 15000). I have absolutely no idea how many punters played and I have no idea what the average P6 ticket cost but 85 full winning tickets a day. 8500 1 % winners collecting R 150……R6 punters will not spend more than R 50 on a 1% bet but still tough to get so does not play “big” all the time. Its guess work unless you see the ” pattern ” We like to get clever, bankers are imperative to try and catch that stablemate at 33/1 and fields are the only way. I never used to play fields…..defeats the object. My point is this will not sustain racing at punter level ( unless that is the plan ). The quality of racing at feature level is as good as anywhere in the world and you really can have a good day and fields are used because every horse has earn’t their place. Alice and Legal were about the only bankers a while back on feature days so you really needed to know your collateral form. Now you can make hay if the cards fall right, lots of superstars and then spot the pattern ! they exist but you can’t beat class and form but its getting to the feature as a punter ( why do I feel bad every time I use “punter” ?). Racing midweek has become a minefield and to be honest its not fun anymore. I am personally not after the elusive pot of gold its the form i enjoy and the skill of selecting6 in a row. Snaith, Peter, Bremmer, Greef ( on fire right now ! ) they all have big days and many others ( Millard, sigh ). I enjoy the challenge, the nuances of what is going to happen every day and then a 33/1 stablemate throws it all out the window, a horse is scratched, a jockey change, tracks switched, tracks un raceable, The stalls !? carry overs, obscure form, the tote ?! …….and then it becomes more often and then you think “hang on” ? the paper says no hope, the form shows no hope, the trainer is all over the 2nd fav stablemate and “bang” ! scratchings to follow, a jockey gets off and the tote fav changes ( example )……..It s not fun when you have to guess ( get lucky ), it feels “manipulated”…….Thats not the racing I know. There are no bankers any more ( tele track struggle with tips, is there a reason for that ? ). It seems the authorities are determined not to do anything to enhance the P6 ( its a cash cow for the BIG DAYS, they are using punters money and we now know this or they would bring back the coupling rule which they refuse point blank to do) Punters will wait now to try and get there P6 money back as the authorities refuse to share it except on the SPECTACULAR feature days ( its there money not the punters….an elitist thinking , the “top” first )……The owner of “Do it again” was the only one to allude to how the “public” react to a great horse, he is right, its a banker ( black and white of it ) also the “public” are not just onlookers, they are very much invested in everything that goes on ( they are the punters and they feel the ripples in the pond, it affects how you play ) I think that should have been highlighted……One more thing, will the tote please stop changing favourites after the race has run, it looks really dodgy.

  12. Prasheen Harrimohan says:

    Guys there is hope the divisions in the computaform uk is back Thanx Mr editor

  13. Brendon says:


    These people have no clue what they are doing, so they decide to change the format for no apparent reason, except to show someone in the Tower that they are doing something to justify their existence. It’s one royal stuff up after another.

    Yesterday evening I heard one of the staff on Tellytrack explaining why the pick 3 has become a “boring bet”, just like the “rolling double”. As such, the pick 3 will be discontinued as a rolling pick 3 bet and be replaced with one daily pick 3 bet.

    The daily double has turned out to be a resounding failure, if turnover generated is the objective tool to measure the success of a bet type. Phumelela were warned about this move and they chose to ignore us. It’s unclear what measure Phumelela uses in the bubble that they live in to measure any performance.

    Just watch, its only a matter of time that Scotty’s mascots and cheerleaders are going to convince us that the Win bet is “boring bet” or the “trifecta/quartet is boring”. Who knows where they suck this drivel from?

    The reason the industry is in a crisis is because we drew the short straw and landed with a clueless burden to corporate South Africa.

    We are yet to see Phumelela’s market studies and research to support their reckless decisions to destroy they tote and the business at large by randomly introducing and discontinuing bet types.

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