Getting the various entities and personalities to sit around the same campfire and bury personal perceptions and agendas is going to be a non-negotiable starting point to get Cape Racing back on track.
That emerged from a rather haphazardly convened meeting hosted by the Racing Association’s Larry Wainstein at Kenilworth on Monday, 9 September 2019 that seems likely to achieve very little in the short term.
An invitation was extended to local owners and trainers by RA CEO Larry Wainstein a week earlier.
The note gave no notice of a specific agenda – this was instead handed to guests on arrival. And those who came in search of answers, left sorely disappointed.
Wainstein sketched the background of the Gold Circle demerger, during which Cape Racing formed the standalone entity known today as Kenilworth Racing.
The structure and day to day management of Kenilworth Racing is not straightforward, as it is managed by Phumelela, in part of the agreements struck during the Gold Circle demerger process.
To give Larry credit, and even while it was his own party, he did have the guts to come out and face the music – to a degree.
With figures presented by Wainstein showing the Cape to be in serious decline and the RA stepping in to bridge ever increasing gaps, this threatens to become a large bone of contention as pressure on the industry’s finances mounts.
The figures presented raised justifiable concerns and questions among those present. But with no representation from either the WPRRA, Kenilworth Racing or Phumelela board, answers were in short supply.
With no clear hand on the reins from the Chair to keep things in check, or counter-arguments or facts available, the meeting degenerated into speculation, accusation and recrimination.
Was this a strategy or simply inept planning? Take your pick.
A meeting was convened at Kenilworth earlier in the day where discussions were held to find a best solution to massaging the stakes structure against the background of a reduced budget.
Wainstein said the Cape stakes were ‘under review’ – something we have all known for months.
He couldn’t give us specifics and an announcement should be made in a few weeks.
That was an anti-climax!
The charismatic Mike de Kock is a well-respected individual and he suggested that what was lacking is leadership.
He recommended an urgent search for a CEO and didn’t feel that the fact that KR have Co Chairmen was necessarily a positive.
It’s all well and good appointing a CEO, but when the present leadership is fractured, what’s the point?
Hassen Adams, who apparently had a visit from Phindi Kema the previous week, didn’t cover himself in glory or grace when he launched an attack on the absent KR Chairman Robert Bloomberg and was never challenged or countered in the process.
While some felt Bloomberg should have been present, had the two been in the same room and he defended himself and made his own allegations against Adams’ own alleged lack of delivery, where would the line have been drawn in potential prejudicial breaches of confidentiality and exposing boardroom strategy?
Racing historian and expert Charles Faull made an observation about the lack of transparency and accountability, while owner David Abery impressed with his concise questions and points. He could be a man to play a more prominent role in time to come.
The lack of leadership at the meeting led to attacks on other KR board members and Phumelela.
A poor show that had labels of circus and free-for-all being attached to it by some.
And we are no further.
Some owners told the Sporting Post that they came looking for answers and left with nothing. Disappointment in the lack of urgency amid the absence of leadership was the underlying thread.
Sadly the deep rifts are likely to have widened amid the stone throwing.
With many questions and no answers, one clear take-away was that those in charge are either not willing or able to sit around the same campfire.
With the industry under fire from the economy, the government and the Public Protector, it seems the biggest threat might be from itself.
If there are any leaders out there, would they please stand up?