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Kimberley – Praying For Stay Of Execution

Biggest PR disaster of 2019 could still turn out happy

After being unceremoniously condemned to an undignified demise in the dusty reaches of Kimberley on 9 December, Northern Cape racing is likely to be given a three year stay of execution with a knight in shining armour coming to the rescue of one of South Africa’s proudest racing jurisdictions.

There have been more mixed messages, about-turns and fake news generated from the day the two-man Joburg hit squad went in to deliver the death warrant to a shell-shocked group of trainers back in August.

Not surprisingly, a reaction followed, questions were asked in the media – we were also slammed in the process – and the situation was compounded when local trainers were given until end September to confirm in which direction they would be headed. Talk about mercenary!

Another uproar followed at this unreasonable time-frame  requirement.

Then in mid September, Phumelela CEO John Stuart announced that options were being evaluated in conjunction with Gold Circle and other stakeholders, and that more details would be ‘released soon’.

And since then the local stakeholders and the racing public have waited for news. The Sporting Post regularly gets requests for updates.

“We remain in discussion with Gold Circle and the RA in this regard,” Phumelela Racing Executive Patrick Davis said today.

As we stated previously, the closure of the Kimberley racing community has widespread humanitarian and economic implications. We are talking families being uprooted and a massive hole in the cog of the broader racing economy.

Japie Bessel and Maplaas Salman get some support from their fellow grooms (photo: Emmie Lensley)

On Thursday we spoke to a few of the local trainers again. They are deeply thankful that they may be allowed to continue. But they are still asking for answers – like, ‘how the hell did this happen?’

They are also concerned at a lack of a genuine turnaround strategy.

“There is a massive mistrust between us and the racing operator. We have been shabbily treated. There have been no apologies. We want them to embrace Kimberley – and not adopt a like it or lump it ‘houding’, as they have,” said one.

Another trainer mentioned that the stakes cuts – while accepted as a necessary lifeboat – had not been properly explained – and where do they eventually lead?

“Take an MR 62 Handicap on this coming Monday’s card. It pays out a first cheque of R23 200. That race gross is R40 000. Yet in July, the first cheque was R30 000 and the gross was R48 000. They mention stakes cuts of 12% – yet I calculate some are as much as 27%. We were already at the bottom of the food chain. Why skin us to the bone?”

There was also a concern that operational costs like feed and wages were on the up.

“Like most people countrywide, we have already had to tighten belts and cut staff. Shocking in a  country with a 29% unemployment rate. And I’m worried – like when an owner drinks his champers and enjoys leading in his winner. Then he ends up getting a winning cheque of R16 000. After the champagne has worn off, he is going to think that he fell into a time warp and is back in the 1970’s,” said another trainer.

“So we wait. Let’s hope our rescuers have a love of the game, compassion for people and business acumen. This can’t be allowed to happen again – we really are prepared to all pull together to make it work.”

Read more in the SP Digest – click on the image below

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9 comments on “Kimberley – Praying For Stay Of Execution

  1. Avril says:

    Ed what I would like to know is whether the Management of Phumelela or RA have taken a cut in their salaries

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Avril
      Nothing that has been announced publically

  2. Ethion says:

    This whole affair stinks.

    I went onto http://www.sahorseracing.co.za and saw that Phumelela has scheduled 3 race meetings for Kimberley in January 2020.

    On the face of it, I am happy for every owner, trainer, employee and punter invested in Northern Cape racing. I want to jump up into the air and click my heels shouting whoopee. But, there something telling me not to trust what I see. I have a very uncomfortable feeling sitting in the depths of my stomach. My mind keeps on asking these important niggling things. Before any announcement was made regarding stakes being reduced, the two hired guns came to Flamingo and told horse racing that a decision had been made by Phumelela to close down Flamingo at the end of Decemner. After that Phumelela negotiated with the RA a reduction in stakes for all regions. That negotiation took place on the basis that Phumelela could not afford to keep paying the stakes it had been paying. A deal was struck between the two sociopath contractors. The two hired guns who who pulled the trigger on Flamingo were involved in putting together the new stakes deal. If Phumelela was closing down Flamingo and could not afford to keep it, where is it finding the money to pay the January 2020 stakes? The two hired guns are like their employers, they have no conscience. The bs and lies have to stop. Phumelela and the RA need to come clean. Peoples lives and livelihhoods are being affected.
    This is not a horse race.

  3. Gary Grant says:

    Hi Editor. Please explain why the “turffontein today” article has been removed from the home page so soon, would really like to get fothcoming comments. This is a serious issue and people should be filled in and have there say.

    1. Editor says:

      The racing comments stories always drop off home page to racing news pages at the end of that day Gary
      We will rerun a short editorial shortly on the objection subject

  4. Joe says:

    Is it true that Larry Wainstein draws a salary in the region of R300,000 a mth from the RA.


    THE RACING ASSOCIATION NPC (Registration Number 1997/019092/08) (“The Association”)51Non-executive2018Directors’ feesTotalWGC Miller15 00015 000MK Naidoo36 00036 000GW Paddock37 80037 800JJ Snaith11 92511 925100 725100 7252017Directors’ feesTotalMK Naidoo37 80037 800VW Nsele15 00015 000GW Paddock39 37539 37592 17592 175Notes to the

    Consolidated Financial Statements (Continued)26.
    Directors’ emoluments
    Other benefitsTotal

    LA Wainstein

    2 944 854

  6. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    The most expensive trophy presenter in the world…full stop and in every photo as well….whats that all about ? The men with many hats get well looked after. Ethion, you are right…Flamingo is gone….its just a matter of time.

  7. Dennis Cason says:

    I agree Kimberley will not survive much longer, with the massive stake reductions, Kimberley is doomed for closure in the near future, with massive reduction in stakes there will not be enough horses left in training to stage a race meeting. When I think of Phumelela they fall in line with with badly managed and run companies like Steinhoff, SA Airways, Eskom, Transnet and SABC.

    Thank you.
    Dennis Cason

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