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‘Racing’s Future Has To Be Different To Past’

Charles Savage throws some light on that meeting

Racing Association national board member Charles Savage is a man who has worn varying hats in the sport.

A longstanding owner, he played a key role in Purple Capital’s industry wake-up call and unsuccessful bid for Cape racing back in the bad old – or were they good old days – of the Gold Circle demerger.

More recently he was named by a source as the likely Chairman of a transitional oversight  body to emerge from a meeting of industry players and significant stakeholders held in Johannesburg on 22 July in the aftermath of the Phumelela mayday a week earlier.

The official blurb subsequently published by the racing operator states that the purpose of that meeting was to discuss the challenges facing the industry, as well as the scope for co operation to benefit and improve the industry in South Africa.

While the Sporting Post had lots of questions to ask Charles, we understand that he is in a sensitive position.

We put the following to him:

Can you tell us what the aims and goals are of the SARRC?
Whose interests are represented?
Who are the members of the committee?
Is the ‘committee’ actually in operation?
Who were the significant stakeholders at the meeting?
Who decided who to invite?
Is there a stakes reduction to come? What amount?
Will Gold Circle drop their stakes to maintain parity?
Why the delay in announcing it?
Why were the bookmakers excluded?
Charles responded:

“A large number of your questions are not for me to answer as I have no sight of the operations or finances of any of the operators and as such they should be directed at them. Neither was I responsible for setting up or deciding on the attendees (of the 22 July meeting),” he says.

He says that what he can say  is that there was seemingly strong consensus that the future of horse racing cannot look like the past.

“Specifically that the fragmented operational approach of the last 20 odd years needs to transform into a more consolidated, inclusive and transparent operational structure that in the outcome secures and stabilises the future of the industry, in theprocess returning it to growth and prosperity.”

He confirms that what was agreed is that in order to set this new course for the industry that there is a need to establish and staff a body whose purpose is to consider and make recommendations to the various industry bodies, stakeholders, regulators and government on the future strategy and structure of Horse Racing In South Africa.

“As I’m sure you can appreciate this a delicate, complex and very important responsibility that this body finds itself considering and making recommendations on. As such it is critical that it is properly established and that due process is followed in selecting the team and agreeing their mandate. Rushing this will serve us no purpose other than to ensure we just end up back where we find ourselves. So whilst I fully appreciate that the industry wants more answers there just aren’t any for now,” he responds in answer to our suggestions that stakeholders and the public have been kept in the dark.

Diplomatically, he points out that the most he can say is that the process that they envisage following from here includes:

Establishing this body and empowering it through an industry mandate/constitution that sets the boundaries and scope of work that needs to be performed.

Securing funding to support this body for at least 6-12 months.

Advertising the roles and expertise required to staff this body and target and attract the right candidates, short list and hire.

Setting them to work.

“The work required is extensive and will require that all stakeholders are considered and engaged. In the outcome the body will need to balance their findings and make recommendations to the various stakeholders to win over their support. The industry, members, boards and shareholders will in turn need to vote these into action,” he says when rounding off his summary.

Men with Charles Savage’s passion and acumen,and the courage to stand up and say something, are what the industry desperately needs.

We asked him what role he saw himself playing in the new dispensation.

“Whilst I would love to play an active role and certainly hope to be included in parts of the work that is required, I have a full time job and cannot commit my full time to horse racing. My current focus is to work with the various stakeholders in ensuring that this body is properly established, funded and staffed and importantly, empowered by the industry through a clear and well considered mandate.I hope that sheds some light.”

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18 comments on “‘Racing’s Future Has To Be Different To Past’

  1. Warren Grobler says:

    Racing keeps looking for solutions,and yet it continues to ignore it’s most fundamental part,the punter.

    Why do people bet?

    What bets do they like/dislike?

    Why are people still punting despite being perpetual losers?

    Racing used to be generational,with sons becoming involved because their fathers did.Is that still happening?

    Why are Millenials not entering the game?How do we get Generation Z to have the same passion for the game that Baby Boomers and Generation X did?

    ‘Racing’ can create whatever structure it likes,it cannot succeed until it stops taking it current customers for granted,and finds a way to attract the next base of ‘lifelongers’.

    I’ve had my 1st punt at 13,it’s 37 years later and I’m still here,but ‘Racing’ has never done anything to find out why.

    Maybe it’s time to listen to the customer?

  2. Rod Mattheyse says:

    I read this and it has left me thinking was it a requirement that the 650 words get published before the expense claim for the 2 cappuccinos gets signed?

  3. jc lee ching says:

    could not agree with you more, you hit the nail right on the head

  4. karel says:

    I love this one:
    ““Specifically that the fragmented operational approach of the last 20 odd years needs to transform into a more consolidated, inclusive and transparent operational structure that in the outcome secures and stabilises the future of the industry, in the process returning it to growth and prosperity.”

    So you take a pile of unrelated animal bones and you say you’re going to make it into a tiger.

    I have a simple question, to be answered in a single paragraph: “What exactly is the problem?”

  5. Tony Mincione says:

    The headline…so alluring. So exciting.

    10 questions…zero answers. None challenged. Is there a sporting term for this? Strike? Duck? WTF?

    What’s the SARRC? (Question 1)

    Race Relations Committee? Race Reparations Council? Racing Repair College?

    I could only manage 8 questions here, before nausea sets in.

    Warren, it’s worse than not listening to the customer. It’s no one believes that’s who the customer is.

    Clue: The customer…is downstairs. (You guys who have never been in a tote, you may recognize them from the top of their heads from the bored room view.) Damn, I swore not to use sarcasm, the lowest form of wit, but there you go.

    PS about that sensitive position, I think there’s a cream for that and a doughnut pillow. How can people come in at the top dressed in armour and swinging a sword, and then claim sensitivity? Unbelievable. Praise transparency and then go invisible. Nothing changes despite the headline promise.

  6. Armchair jockey says:

    Let me guess; any hiring will be decided by vote with the non voting chairman having the deciding vote in case of a manufactured tie . Close friends and family need apply. The only qualification is an ability to talk nonsense, sound credible and promise to deliver what you are not capable of. More of the same in other words.

  7. Leon Smuts says:

    I think Mr Savage truly care about racing and would love to see it succeeding which is why he was involved in a bid to get involved in Cape Racing. When more can be shared it will be and until such time speculation will fuel many conspiracies which is why information should not be unduly delayed. The headline should be taken as a slogan and will hopefully be the starting point of any turnaround plan. The final list of those involved will be very revealing and will prove or disprove that the sport is about to change. Until such time judgement is reserved.

  8. Chris says:

    Hi guys.I love listening to the comments in Sorting Post but get seriously upset with so much negativety.The whole country is is in chaos the rand is spiralling out of control but every day we can watch racing punt and enjoy winners or losers.Maybe this is not relavent so much to this article but lets look on the positive side.I do not own any more but have bred and raced a group 1 winner and many more group 2 and stakes races.I now enjoy just punting and watching.Is it so bad????Lets look at the poitives and there are plenty but stop the negatively and doom and gloom.Would really enjoy to see some positive press.

  9. Rod Mattheyse says:

    Chris I hope you showed your positivity and bought 3 or 4 at this weeks sale.

    The results of this sale were quite positive I thought, and really hoped you contributed to it.

  10. Armchair jockey says:

    When you concentrate on the horses it is all good Chris. When you concentrate on the industry egos it is all bad.

  11. Leon Lotz says:

    Racing in the future can not be different from 100 years back.An owner or trainer have to find a horse,pay for it, train and race it. Then hopefully you can place a bet when you think the horse is ready,but before that the horse must have the ability to win.This is why we race,we all hope for the one horse.That is where the excitement is.Racing will always remain the same nobody can change that.
    What can change is to look after everybody in the game,the small owners ,punters and trainers keeps racing alive.Registration fees are one place to investigate.NHRA fees for lisences,colours, foal registrations and so on is for Kings,the normal man can not afford this. Phumelela just listen to us,PROMOTE SOUTH AFRICAN RACING.SPEND MONEY ON OUR OWN TRAINERS,JOCKEYS AND OWNERS.NOT THE HURDLE RACING AND THE TROTTING BULLSHIT.
    If I train horses I have to make it work for me,just dont kill me with all the expensive fees.Put me in a position that I enjoy looking at channel 239 AT MY OWN COUNTRY HORSES AND TRAINERS FIRST,IF NOT YOU ARE LOOSING MY MONEY . YOU IRRATATE ME WITH TROTTING HORSES , I WALK AWAY AND WONT BET.
    I KEEP ON REPEATING MYSELF,MAKE THE SMALL , BIG, RICH,NOT SO RICH PUNTER,OWNER,TRAINER AND BREEDER FEEL IMPORTENT BY LOOKING AFTER THEM AND RACING WILL EXPLODE.Big corporate companies never listen to the asshole on the ground ,they always bring in the expert,and blame it on something like the exchance rate or earthwarming. You do not need all the so called experts. LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE ON THE GROUND

  12. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    Clean the lot out or nothing will change….it will just be different hats handed out to the same crowd ( ANC ). When the restaurant gets a bad name, you close and then reopen with new staff, there is no other way, It has to start afresh. Trying to rehabilitate “old habits” will close the business for good, they will never let go of a “good thing” they don’t know any other way. Look at the ANC and how SA is run….

  13. Spencer says:

    I totally agree with Warren Groblers comment. I have been betting on horses since I was 18 and I’m 55 now so 37 years. I’ve had a telebet account for over 20 years. I am not a big punter by any means but over this time period I am sure my betting turnover runs into the millions. I have never ever recieved any correspondence from TAB or Phumelela thanking me for my loyalty or patronage. If I gamble at my local casino I get Freeplay, free food and drinks, free car washes etc etc. I even get extra freeplay when it’s my birthday. Why cant TAB do something like that? Some kind of loyalty rewards program? Just a thought……

  14. Steve Reid says:

    Rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking ship that is Phumelela most definitely does not equate to racings future being different from the past. If anything it is the mirror image of what has gone before us.

  15. Paul says:

    We need to be realistic. PGL is a listed entity and has obligations towards its shareholders. Any deal to be done with PGL has to make sure that for the next ten years all amounts it intends to declare as dividends have to be put back into racing and nothing goes to shareholders. Management numbers need to but cut. Their salaries should only increase at the exact same rate as stakes are increased annually. We know how much stakes have increased. The PGL board of non executive directors need to take a cut in their remuneration. They earn too much for being YES people and the majority of them not holding a single share in PGL and not in any way involved in horse racing. We want genuine people who want to repair racing instead of wanting to suck as much as they can out of it. It has been confirmed to me that stakes are being reduced while PGL salaries will not be affected. While owners toil harder and pay more and earn less, no one in PGL cares or are affected. Any deal with PGL has to guarantee an end to horse racing being pillaged and raped by PGL.

  16. Shanil says:

    As Leon says listen to people on the ground. I cannot for the life of me understand why Gold Circle schedules a turf race meeting on a Wednesday day and a Poly meeting on a Sunday. Have they not seen the difference in pools between a turf meeting and poly meeting. Punters are more confident of their selections when betting. On course attendance is greater when turf meetings are staged. Please can we schedule TURF meetings on Weekends and Polytrack on weekdays.

  17. Shanil says:

    Spencer is on the button here. I have had big pick 6 wins . All paid into my telebet account over the years. Never once did I get a single communication congratulating my win or even perhaps send a bottle of wine. I win 3000.00 at the slot machine. The lights go crazy. get VIP attention. From the staff. I have to keep copy bank statements as a souvenir of my win. Very sad. This is a very lonely game for a loyal punter . No one cares or tries to keep you in the game.

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