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A Plea To Make The Met Magic Again

It's just not the same anymore

A suggestion by Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato that the ‘ordinary’ people be brought into the Sun Met day audience equation is a possible starting point for the big race organisers to drop the perceived elitist tag – and the crazy prices – and give the race back to the people.

In other words, revert to the basics of what we remember as a wonderful affordable  racing and social day out, with a foundation of genuine racing folk and casual visitors.

The media and punting public won’t be a part of the debriefing that will hopefully happen this week, but it’s clear that the great race, for all the thrills, excitement, tradition and long history, has lost an essential connection with the racing man on the ground.

Chatting to Julie Alexander during the course of the afternoon, the Cape Town Mayor pointed out that it was wonderful day but asked why the people from the townships weren’t there.

While no official turnover or attendance figures are ever published these days, the general consensus was that there were more people on course on L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate day and that the public areas were ‘relatively empty’.

“They have turned the best raceday in SA into a non event,” said a lifetime punter.

The Tellytrack coverage had its chinks too – like cutting abruptly into the highly anticipated Andrew Fortune post-race entertainment.

Another staunch racing man bucked the negativity saying ‘it was better than last year’.

One leading owner suggested it was ‘not racing – it was more like going out for an expensive lunch’.

Another racing fan bemoaned the ‘greedy monetisation’ of the picnic sites and asked why they took away the days of cooler bags, shorts and slip slops, and self-catering options. That made  it an affordable day out – whether you live in Bonteheuwel, Bergvliet or Bishopscourt.

The fact that Tellytrack presenter Fee Ramsden had to urge the assembled gathering to clap during the jockey introductions shows that atmosphere can’t be manufactured – it flows naturally from the soul of the masses, who just don’t go anymore.

Fair enough, the Met was competing with the infinitely more appealing to the younger set of the Cape Town 10’s and the Stormers were playing the Hurricanes at Newlands.

But the fact is that those organisers now have the confidence to put on their shows.

The Met urgently needs to regain its magnetism and top ranking.

And that starts with identifying the market and going out to fetch them.

And accepting that the PC approach of pulling in the glam new age set is almost self destructive. Even the Mayor thinks so.

There was plenty to be positive about.

  • The day’s racing was exciting.
  • The Met field was high-class.
  • The race itself produced a thrilling finish.
  • The Pick 6 exceeded projections and reached a pool of over R21 million.
  • The weather played ball.

Thank heavens for the horses and our jockeys with their long suffering owners, trainers and their teams.

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25 comments on “A Plea To Make The Met Magic Again

  1. jai says:

    its sad to say that racing has lost its glamour.
    and it would not get any better.

  2. Maddox says:

    It’s not “perceived of being elitist” it is elitist.
    Eighty percent of the crowd present have no idea about horse racing. Probably never seen a horse before.

  3. DavidS says:

    As I see it once the insatiable greedy corporate got their grubby paws on SA racing they turned the big race days into expensive social parties squeezing the juice out of regular racing fans, then when the regulars stopped attending they turned to whom ever wanted to pay to party, racegoers are not a priority to Corpratisation, cash is

  4. Pieta says:

    Ryan Moore must have thought he was at a Monday meeting at Redcar….

  5. Desiree says:

    When are Kenilworth Racing going to take ownership of this event again? It’s no good pointing fingers at Phumelela or external hosting entities! The Met belongs to the Cape and it’s people!!! It’s one of the few highlights the Cape has left. The Summer Cup is edging ahead of the Met in terms of race day entertainment.
    The event needs to be managed by RACING PEOPLE who love the game!

  6. Michael Jacobs says:

    I have been beating this drum since Sun International took over the sponsorship and completely ruined the unique Capetonian character of the J & B Met. The Met used to be the biggest garden party of all in Cape Town, and now it is a soulless, underwhelming event for the elite and the rich and famous. Ordinary people no longer attend the Met. We used to bring our picnic baskets, umbrellas and picmic chairs and chill out on the lawns. The place was packed. Now there is no atmosphere on the racecourse on Met Day. Between them Kenilworth Racing and Sun International have killed the Met. They had to give 300 tickets away on Friday prior to Met Day to at least get a crowd. Besides the 100s of complimentary tickets that had already been given away. When J & B sponsored the event, the house full signs went up halfway through the afternoon! Very few people were punting on Saturday, as the real racegoers stayed away. I suppose Kenilworth Racing and Sun International want to create an illusion of glamour and hype with all the socialites and celebs, but there were very few of them oncourse Saturday anyway! Those folk probably realised the Met is no longer the place to be seen.

    Kenilworth Racing and Sun International must swallow their pride, realise they’ve lost the plot and allow the ordinary racing folk who they have shunted off the racecourse to return and picnic on the lawns. The celebs can still enjoy themselves on the infield in the marquees, and leave us to enjoy our Met like we used to in the glory days of J & B. We are really not interested in the celebs and socialites, we came to see the horses anyway!

  7. Winder says:

    Mayor Plato is correct and it will be interesting to see whether the authorities take his criticism seriously or not.
    It is time that horseracing administrators stop deceiving themselves. Racing has to be taken back to the people. Is there anybody out there that has bothered to pay attention to and learn from the Greyville experience of the The Rising Sun Gold Challenge Raceday every year?
    This community newspaper which is the sponsor of this raceday, packs Greyville Racecourse by bringing in thousands of people from the local townships around Durban to enjoy a free day at the races along with all sorts of entertainment and competitions that they put up. It is now the third largest Raceday after the Durban July and the Gold Cup in KZN in terms of attendance. This is what happens when you make the day about the people and not the elite. You are going to get more new horseracing followers from the man in the street who has a fabulous raceday experience than the elite and rich who are simply there for the glamour.
    Remember, casinos welcome the man in the street with open arms every day. They don’t
    make him feel that he isn’t welcome on certain “big” days because these are seemingly reserved for the rich and elite only.
    Look after the public. The rich and elite will come anyways because they will always want to be seen at these glamourous events.

  8. Rian says:

    You so right Micheal, and I can feel the passion and hurt you feeling in your Post but believe me the powers that be don’t give a Continental
    Cry our Beloved Met is now very appropriate and if we don’t do something now it will become a After Party for a few
    In 2010 J&B had a fabulous Party the Friday before the Met at the CT Stadium and Kenilworths attendance was very good,
    Would love to go again !!!!!!

  9. Leon Lotz says:

    Racing overall is in trouble.I started buying horses again two years back,after I gave it up because of the family stress after my father inlaw was murdered and my personal work load.I complained then about overseas racing on tellytrack and we had our own Jooste and Mr Wheinstein RA problems in Kimberley which irritated me. But I can not explain how much I missed it.Most of my dearest friends and also owners passed away and or just left racing.People like Oom Nic Claassen, Andre Kirsten,Terry Lowe ect.Just a few years ago I could ready a horse up and punt it without giving my information to the world. My owners made money and bought horses on going.Now the few punters left is complaining and telling trainers and jockeys how croocked they are and I see you actually cannot punt a horse at good odds, your limit is exceeded very fast.I have been feeding my horses for two years now and only started racing a month back ,driving 450 km there and 450km back to race courses.I pay and keep my own facilities and like somebody wrote on Sportingpost the other day ,I am charging owners vitamins for horses I do not give.What an assehole. Till now the punters did not funded me,and wrightfull so.Racing and punters must understand we all need each other.Excactly that is one big problem for racing overall.
    I was at the Met last year and I commented about R1800 table per person negatively.Yesterday I tried to follow the day on Tellytrack, what an absolute irritation. Overseas racing again , when the horses canter down you loose the picture because of the blue stage in the way of the camera,they did not show the horses in the parade ring ( the big race), no Grant Knowles had to interview someone. NHRA fees are even higher than ever while the owner and tainers as bleeding out. Why are no one listening????????????

  10. Mich says:

    Why do we not have Xhosa and Zulu speaking race callers in the major centers??Has anyone asked the grooms if they would like to hear race calling in their own language? What about capitalizing on the work riders series through a Xhosa/Zulu speaking tv or radio station.Make these guys celebrities! Everyone has WhatsApp so why can’t the young marketing people create a betting information platform through this App.These initiatives could develop and create a buzz for the next Met

  11. Gman says:

    Leon.
    If you read ur comment again you will see how you are contradicting urself first you say punters say owners and trainers are crooked,then you say a while back you could punt on your own horse and make some money for you and the owners.
    In a nut shell what this statement means is let the horse run 10-20 lengths behind the winner for about 10runs and boom you have a 100/1 shot winning and you are the only one that knows how that could be possible.Fit some blinkers and use that as an excuse.

  12. nimalen says:

    Great idea about race calling in different languages. We are at the mercy of Tellytrack, post-race interviews need to improve too

  13. Leon Lotz says:

    G Man
    I do not have to be crooked to pull of a 100/ 1.
    My name says it all and the unfashionable jockey I will use. I cannot run the risk galloping a horse week in and out ,run him 10 times and in the meantime I injure him.Follow me on facebook and call me, then maybe you can right the comment on Sportingpost if we might be successfull😀😀

  14. Pops says:

    Leon Lotz,are you saying its your right to only allow you and your owners the opportunity to make money when your horses pop up and win at 100/1?
    Is it also the right of another 50 plus trainers to do the same as you? Suppose you will say ,yes.
    How long do you think the uninformed punter will put up with this practice.Six months ,a year 5 years before they walk away.
    And when the ‘few left punters’are no more there will you be happy running your horses against your other horses for grand prize of Scotch mist.

  15. Leon Lotz says:

    Pops
    You make it sound that when myself and 50 other trainers think it is time for 100/1 you push the button and then the horse wins.I am the worst trainer in SA and I am right at the bottom of the trainers log, training for myself.Whether I had a good horse or not the odds are always on my side.If you are clever follow those trainers they are all trying. Let me give you a few examples.
    I took two horses to the Vaal once named Staying Alive and Tamara Star. 66/1 .Staying Alive won and in my interview I said , I think the filly is better.She stayed at 66/ 1 and won.I took a filly named Chippi to Turfontein in a group 2 with a merit rating of 68,the comentator said the horse should have stayed in Kimberley cantering down. She finished 4th,I won the quartet. Left her with Andre Kirsten and she won her next start with Sipho Nlapo up on the Vaal. The odds stayed the same.
    Ran Port Of York against JJ The Jetplane, finished 3rd.Do you know how much the trifecta paid?Do you think I drove 1400 km to get a price some where else. I do not make prices on horses but follow those 50 trainers ,they are not crooked, they are trying and we need your money. You can make money.

  16. Graham HJ says:

    Been calling it for years…..now that the dam is about to break there is a lot to say….2020 is the death of SA racing as we know it ( that car crash is almost done ) it has been collapsing from within for years and no no one cares, thats obvious ( inside the industry, greedy self interest ) It is exactly how the ANC are running SA. Well done NHA, RA, Breeders, trainers, owners ( and the few punters in the know ) its been captured and you know it….thats why you now desperately need the exports, the punter cookie jar is drying up and you did that on purpose because you have your now interests at heart. You have not listened and it takes the Mayor of Cape Town to see the obvious. How much taxpayer money did Cape Town ” pay into the MET day ED ? more public money going to a few elite to make sure the UBER SUPER FEATURE DAYS are all paid up for the few. The P6 numbers for these huge pots are a false narrative….4 winners Saturday ???? LOTTERY !!! brilliant, kill it off while it is bleeding out….they have turned a highly skilled sport into a lottery…..but thats what they want….

  17. darryl says:

    The ” Met” and the “July” should be stand alone meetings on the day. The sponsors lost around 55 minutes of coverage because the other Pumelela meeting was taking place on the same day.They could have made the meeting on the following day Sunday therefore affording the armchair viewer a better view of what is going on after the finish and lead in and making it a better experience for everyone The same money taken on the Turfontein meeting would have gone on the met races anyway

    On July day last year, Pumelela tried to snuck in on some turnover, and held a meeting “On July Day” Result, Bad Tellytrack coverage.of the July.

    Surely the sponsers of these two great events would pick this up and demand a stand alone South African meeting on the big days Why on earth spoil the event by changing from a big event to another smaller meeting on the day

    Maybe Vodacom and Gold Circle should negotiate this as the sponsers are spending a lot of money on the day and Tellytrack is cutting their viewing time
    and making our fun day a day not worth watching

  18. Tim says:

    Even as hawwaam turned into the straight he hung his head to the right and stared into the grand stand in utter dismay…. We all know what happened next.. Jokes aside, bring the met back to the masses!!

  19. Sharon says:

    I have worked with sport horses and riders for over 30 years and would have loved to have enjoyed the buzz as in the old days of the J&B. Sadly, wanting a chair for the times between races has become too expensive. Watched the TV commentary which was way too haphazard for horselovers. Sad day for racing when those who actually love the sport have to stay home, so that those who just want to be seen (and post to facebook) happily pay the big money.

  20. Philip Norman says:

    I can’t wait for the 2020 Vodacom Durban July ‘on-course’ commentary to be in Zulu, I’m sure the sponsors would be ecstatic.
    What an absolutely ‘brain-dead’ suggestion.

  21. Adesh rambally says:

    Given gavin that horse for 2020 july…. a banker in all bets ..

  22. bert says:

    I have been saying the same for years elitist and wrong people invited to course.I mentioned a while back when Investic have their day they put up this masive tent invite their top clients who come for the free meal and booze but never leave the tent to watch the race or see the winner been been lead in(winner s inclosure right next to tent)
    met day kenilworth allows too many stalls selling food and drink (which is always overpriced ) for which they get rent and im sure a kick back ,which leaves very little room for the people on course to walk around, so there is no more atmostphere on the course just stalls.I agree there should only be one meeting on Met day,July day and summer hcp but Phumelela is greedy and wont allow this to happen .now that they got rid of LW and hopefully more of his cronies they will sort this out.
    the only day that everyone is allowed on course NO CHARGE is “prawn festival day ” and look at crowd I am almost sure that tote turnover on that meeting on course goes up massively.
    Its time to get Phumelela kicked out of cape town and welcome back gold circle ,maybe Hollywood Bets will then sponsor racing in Cape Town

  23. Graham HJ says:

    I have to disagree with Feature days being stand alone meetings, that is not necessary ( try that in the UK !!?? ) but the other meeting should accommodate the Feature, its not that difficult to do….( mind you !!?? )….

  24. Mitch says:

    Philip Norman.Do you watch,for example,rugby on tv? Maybe you don’t because if you did,you would know there are three different language commentaries running on the live feed…perhaps if you are able to think out the box,the same could apply to racing as we know it. Your ‘brain dead’ comment is pointless

  25. Pieta says:

    Must say, I enjoy French and German commentary when I’m over there….the horse’s name remains the same…….and its exciting when I hear my horse in the final 200m and I have no clue what the commentator is saying..😁
    To have commentary in your 13 languages over here is a lag…..but racing is so bad at the moment…..bring it on…can’t wait….😂😂😂😂

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