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Day 6 – Why Aren’t They Talking?

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SA Champion trainer Sean Tarry was cautiously pragmatic when he expressed reservations about our racing coping financially with the 21 day lockdown, and even beyond that.

“We can plan when we have the facts. At the moment we are dealing with a moving target,” he added in an interview with Andrew Bon earlier this week.

“If and when we open in a three weeks time, we are going to see a game we have never seen in the past. If you think it’s negative now, talk to me in three weeks time,” added a sombre Mike de Kock.

The SA Racing Special Task Team, which was hastily convened last Tuesday following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Monday announcement, is yet to give the racing public any further feedback. Maybe they have nothing to tell us? But we also don’t even know who they are.

Yet every day, we are able to read of pro-active action and detail from the Aussies and Hong Kong. Specific stakes cuts details – and ideas and plans. They don’t use ‘spokesman’ – their leaders are quoted by name.

What, for instance, is the situation with commingling here? What are our Tote leaders doing to create a fire out of the smouldering embers? What can punters do to add value, while creating some much-needed entertainment?

The lifting of Tellytrack live streaming subscription fees was a positive move, but Mike de Kock mentioned turnover being ‘60% down’ before the current crisis – so how bad is is now?

We are not looking for the old style pre 27 March propaganda – facts are the new currency. Even if there’s not much to report.

The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously affected racing jurisdictions globally, with simulcasts, betting pools, horse sales, and commingling all affected, reported the scmp.com recently.

Compared with other sports, racing has managed to continue because it doesn’t need spectators to be profitable. Hong Kong is one of the few jurisdictions – with Japan, Australia, Singapore and some tracks in the USA among the others – who have found a way to continue in these tough times.

With no racing, South Africa is not alone –  Britain, France, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Ireland are all out of play for the time being, and there are flow-on effects for the Hong Kong Jockey Club – both positive and negative.

The biggest impact for Hong Kong has been simulcasts, felt on last Saturday night with the cancellation of the Dubai World Cup meeting.

The HKJC will replace that meeting with this Saturday’s Doncaster Mile meeting in Sydney, but it’s not a simple process to switch one for another. There are agreements in place with other international racing bodies and it becomes more complicated if the races themselves are postponed, rather than cancelled

Chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges told the media that he plans on talking to the government to try to change the current date restriction on horse racing betting (from July 16 to end August).

“I’m still hopeful we can get some flexibility in relation to the summer break especially in these circumstances,” he said.

“If you look at the French Derby, the French Oaks – all these meetings we have scheduled, they likely will not transpire. There are a lot of questions. It would be helpful to have some flexibility and allow us to make contributions to the tax dollar and satisfy our customer demands.”

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17 comments on “Day 6 – Why Aren’t They Talking?

  1. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    Desperately looking after they’re own interests, Fagan comes to mind……

  2. joao says:

    The reason there is not a peep out of anybody higher up the echelons and including the “task” force is not particularly hard to work out and its NO April fools joke either.

    When a company has serious accounting and cash flow issues it’s choices of survival are totally depended on the wheel keeping on turning. So lets say you had a lusted company with serious issue’s they could keep juggling balls provided some cash was coming is from some avenues. Cash coming in means payment plans can be structured and suppliers stalled or paid less but paid something.
    Doing the above keeps the wheels turning and the juggler keeps balls in the air occasionally dropping 1 but justifying the drop by blaming other circumstances. When you drop 2 balls then the next 3 fall quickly.

    So my take on SA racing is that the debt and liabilities incurred by the listed firm are now beyond manageable. I very much doubt that there is not a financial liability to other areas whether it be revenue from simulcast or picture revenue or indeed support staff and a bus.

    I cannot see this lockdown lasting only 3 weeks and I cannot see racing coming out of it with our major changes. I predict a 30-50% reduction in stakes. I predict a reverting to self control by areas / courses.

    This is why there is no chat from anyone. The pressure is already on owners to pay their bills during these times. Owners have lost businesses. Punters have lost business as well. The situation is dire.

    Look at the numbers over the last few years from the listed firm.

    Racing as we know it is over.

  3. Fred says:

    I have a vested interest in making these comments because I am beneficial shareholder of PGL shares.

    I watched the interview by AB of MdK about the lockdown.

    I could not believe that we were being told by an unconnected party to PGL that its turnover was 60% down. MdK is not a director of PGL. He should not know this information.

    MdK told us that he was able to tell us about the drop in turnover because the information as he put it, was already out there.

    The truth is that the information was not out there. I challenge anyone to show me that PGL had made a public announcement that turnover was down 60%.

    This share price sensitive information should have been told to us by PGL in the correct way and not by MdK in an interview.The corporate governance in horse racing sucks.

    I am offended by PGL making confidential information known to outsiders. Since MdK made this statement about a drop in turnover, the PGL share price has steadily gone down.

    Although turnover is down by 60%, MdK had no right to know about this before anyone else. The RA is one of the biggest shareholders in PGL. It and its directors have no restrictions in buying and selling PGL shares or from disclosing share price sensitive information to friends,colleagues, and other shareholders.

    After hearing the figures from MdK I believe that PGL needs to either confirm or deny it. PGL has to come clean as the words insider trading are starting to burn my ears. I need to know whether to sell my shares or to wait. On my calculations, with 60% drop in turnover, PGL has on a few weeks before its cash on hand is depleted and the result will be catastrophic.

    MdK knows more about PGL’s business than shareholders do and that is worrying me. As a beneficial shareholder I feel taken as the village idiot. If I have been, this fool will rush in where others fear to tread.

  4. WILLIAM MILKOVITCH says:

    Joao,

    I concur.

    Personally, I think the only saviour for SA racing & plenty of other businesses is to observe a 3 month music vigil for Hootie & The Blowfish.

    Your country needs them more than ever now.

  5. George Spelvin says:

    Hong Kong with its total monopoly on gambling is hardly a though leader or comparison for South Africa. Sloppy Mister Editor. You simply have no idea how the HKJC would respond were it subject to real competition. And neither is Australia a comparison for what should be obvious reasons.

    Let us know how the South American countries which share our demographic trends and circumstances are planning for the post Covid environment. How about India?

    Sometimes silence is better than spurious comparison.

    1. Editor says:

      George – we are comparing the levels of communication, more than the models
      Let’s get through Day 6

  6. George Spelvin says:

    My question still holds. What is the level of communication from countries which have similar demographic and economic realities to those found in South Africa?

    Communication levels in HK and Aus may well be driven more by their business, political and regulatory models, than by the respective merits of each countries leaders and their ability to communicate or their ability to plan.

    It is quite easy as the chief gambling technocrat in Hong Kong, which Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges is in substance, to pronounce from the pulpit without much recourse.

    There are many issues in SA and the industry leaders here have much to answer for but making simple comparisons is cute journalism and nothing more.

    Let’s see what you bring to Day 7.

    1. Editor says:

      George – you say :
      ‘Communication levels in HK and Aus may well be driven more by their business, political and regulatory models, than by the respective merits of each countries leaders and their ability to communicate or their ability to plan.’

      What about attitude, rather?

  7. George Spelvin says:

    In the face of the oncoming tidal wave George showed great attitude. He spoke calmly and with authority to those around him ensuring everyone had a clear understanding of the impending problem. That George had little idea of what was to happen next only became apparent in retrospect. George is remembered for not causing panic in the great tidal wave of 2020. His attitude was impeccable. May he rest in peace.

  8. WILLIAM MILKOVITCH says:

    Wimbledon has been cancelled.

    Historically, the Ladies Final takes place on July Day.

  9. Donald says:

    Well , well Fred , your point is well made in respect of the 60% down comment made by MdK . I am not a P.G.L. shareholder ( small blessing ) and therefore although I was surprised by MdK s comment in the interview , and for all I know he could be a shareholder , I assumed all shareholders were aware of the situation ?

    Over to you P.G.L. for response to Fred who is a shareholder !

  10. Donald says:

    What are you saying William ?

    That the July is at risk , because if you are I hope you are wrong ? ? ?

  11. WILLIAM MILKOVITCH says:

    Good evening Donald,

    I would imagine the July will be run but with no spectators.

    That’s my guess, 12 twelves away.

  12. WILLIAM MILKOVITCH says:

    Another plan I would consider if I was an awake administrator, is to shift or extend the Durban season 30 days back.

    In other words, run the July on the 1st August or on the 25th July.

  13. Gman says:

    Awaiting a follow up article from MDK+A Bon on the comments made by ‘FRED’.As a shareholder Mr Fred has reason to be concerned.(Insider trading is a strong word). Mr A Bon do your magic.Also remember those interviews were sponsored by MDK Racing.

    1. Editor says:

      Gman
      If you are referring to the insert done by Andrew on the Covid-19 window, it was sponsored by Maine Chance Farms and Wilgerbosdrift-Mauritzfontein

  14. Gman says:

    Yes Mr Ed apologies it was sponsored by MCF and Wilgerbosdrift-Mauritzfontein.
    Any feedback on the validity to the claims made by Fred MR Editor.

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