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De Kock Speaks For RA’s Phumelela Injection

'Things cannot change overnight'

The Racing Association is not willing to get drawn into mud-slinging contests in response to  criticism of their stakes agreement with Phumelela concluded on Monday.

Comments disapproving of the agreement have been posted on racing forums and social media platforms in the last few days.

Mike de Kock – calling for support

Reported on Turf Talk today and following the announcement of their R13-million injection into racing’s stakes pool, the RA has reiterated a statement from its acting Chairman Brian Riley, who wrote in a letter to members:

“The RA does not accept nor condone a reduction in stakes payments. We have to be realistic and work  with Phumelela to achieve the best possible outcome for our members.”

Trainer Mike de Kock, a member of the new RA Board alongside Riley, Charles Savage and  Wéhann Smith, said on Wednesday:

“I guess we’re doomed to further disapproval if we respond, and doomed to same if we don’t. We do not see the point in reacting to the vitriol. What good will it do? The comments are based on premises of mistrust and ongoing debates with negative individuals will get us exactly nowhere. We have tried to put ourselves on the other side of the fence and in certain respects we understand the anger out there. A few good viewpoints have been  raised among the nasty ones. We on the RA board are not oblivious. We have lived through what has happened in the South African industry with everybody else. But fighting with keyboard critics will detract us from the issues at hand and take our focus off the pressing task of finding solutions.”

With the theme of “too little, too late” prevalent alongside the bitterness about the RA’s support for Phumelela, De Kock pointed out: “We cannot speak for decisions made in the past. Things are what they are, and we are in the now.

“We are fully committed to the best possible outcomes for racing, and using every  available minute of our days looking for answers to elaborate questions. We are having to address a hugely complex passel of problems. We believe our efforts are important and that what we are doing, matters. Things cannot change overnight, there seems to be a belief that certain entities or individuals can simply ‘take over’ the industry, wipe the slate clean of undesirable factors, throw money in at risk, start  afresh and proceed merrily and profitably into the  future.

“This is a pipe-dream. Aside from the industry’s inherent difficulties that have come to a head at this critical juncture, we have had to make our decisions within a ghastly economic climate and faced with the additional and unexpected consequences of Covid19.

“Our objective has been to keep racing going for all its participants, and to this end the stakes have been reallocated in favour of minor races for the time being.

“It should be noted that the lower divisions, MR80 and below, where most competing

racehorses are, will not be seriously affected. In fact, MR69 runners and the divisions below that will be racing for more money than they did before. This will assist the smaller stables and owners while catering to the majority of horses.

“The Graded horses and the higher rated ones (MR90 plus) are the biggest losers, along with the many grooms who rely on 1% commission of stakes earned by their runners. Racing is facing massive job losses, not only among grooms, but in the entire economy of racing. All races from Listed to Gr1 have had their pool of stakes slashed by 70% in order to uphold the average of R67,500, which is now being paid.

“We are acutely aware of the hardships that lie ahead and we are distressed by the possibility of losing good horsemen and smaller owners, but we’ve had to play the cards we have been dealt to help everyone actively working in this industry to the best of our ability.

“We cannot make firm predictions for racing’s future, nobody can. But we’re keeping the industry afloat  and we’re asking everyone to get behind us. Let’s get racing back on track as soon as possible, work out ways to increase betting turnovers and stay hopeful.

“There was a time when the South African flag flew high at racecourses around the world. I remember so clearly the tremendous and coherent support from fans we enjoyed at our first World Cup meeting back in 2003 and at many thereafter. We are a great racing nation, we’ve lost our spirit but we need to get it back!”

Justin Snaith (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Justin Snaith (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Support in principle have come from two other champion trainers in Justin Snaith and Sean Tarry, writing on respective platforms.

Snaith said: “We need to stand together and give our industry leaders and the ‘new’ Racing Association in particular our support.”

Tarry commented: “The recent stakes cut will be devastating in the immediate future, but it must be considered highly encouraging that the racing operators remain committed to sustaining horse-racing in South Africa.

“The Racing Association, who are contributing R13.1 million towards stakes in both the Phumelela and Western Cape regions, are stepping up to the plate in playing an important role in ensuring the sport continues after lockdown is lifted.”

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31 comments on “De Kock Speaks For RA’s Phumelela Injection

  1. Jeb says:

    Reading this keep the peace appeal by Mike De Kock is almost like the age old battered wife syndrome. Keep quiet, keep the peace and let’s carry on. Not good enough to criticize people on the ground. You’ve lost the common touch.

  2. Leon Lotz says:

    All of us has got shares in this industry,whether we are part of the RA or not.Nobody can fire us, as long as we keep our horses,one or less we will survive.I have 3 slow horses and a couple of yearlings . I am staying.Thank you Mike

    1. Editor says:

      Well said Leon
      Let us know when those three are running, please! 🙂

  3. Rian says:

    We have Never lost our Spirit , only the main manne in the industry have lost the plot many years ago
    The punters have always had Spirit and always will

  4. Brian says:

    Mike with a due respect. Everyone is hacked off with the guys in charge, especially PG.

    Sorry, but we hear you, but they have to go

  5. Pappa Goerge says:

    Just do a history search on the Sporting Post about Mike de Kock and there you will see how many times he has criticised decisions made by punters and horse racing authorities. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, he cannot take the criticism. Mike de Kock needs to understand that he is the mudslinging legend and that he has no room to talk. He forgets how he was slinging off at Phumelela to anybody that would listen to him at the last meeting that he was present in the Cape.

    Mike de Kock suggests that the RA has had to play the cards it has been dealt and that no stone can be thrown at its directors. He forgets that he has been a RA director for more than a year and that although promising change for the better, racing for owners has got worse during his tenure.

    No right minded businessman would lend or invest R13 100 000 without full security into a commercially insolvent company that has no chance of repaying it. With all the negative talk about keyboard critics, Mike de Kock has not once explained what ihe and the RA directors foresee is going to happen to horse racing after the R13 100 000 has been spent by Phumelela. I live in the real world. I do not buy into dreams and fairy tales.

    When Phumelela goes belly up, which on the figures and facts is more likely than our lockdown being extended, I enquire whether we have to take on another RA board which uses the same tired excuse of inheriting a bad situation. Mike de Kock has earned his stripes a trainer and not in the commercial world. He chose to delve into the world of corporate affairs. His success as a trainer does not help him when taking on a role as director of the RA. He needs to understand that humility maketh a man and not misplaced arrogance.

  6. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    No change then……They obviously think that the punter and the Sporting Post are two seperate entities, that the comments are not relevant because MDK does not like the tone. Wait MDK, the silence will be deafening soon enough then you can all carry on as the last punter walks away. I guarantee you after this huge hoax perpetrated on humanity horse racing will not be a priority to many people any more. The RA should be listening but nothing’s changed……

  7. Cecil Pienaar says:

    But there are so many “keyboard critics”

    Are they all wrong ?

  8. Pieta says:

    Cecil, my thoughts exactly….you beat me to it.
    MDK already has one foot in AUS…….what can he bring to the table that he could not during the past year or before ?
    Seems a bit of a coincidence that the top trainers are now addressing the issue in news letters….thanking their owners and try to be politicians to give the industry comfort…….where have they been?

  9. Rudi says:

    Well said pappa . Mdk the first one to cry. Now wants to tell us we keyboard critics. Pic your side mdk full of excuses like hawaams to.

  10. Gman says:

    Pappa Goerge you are a LEGEND!!!
    Well said, SP should give your comments its own slot.
    They have shares in Phumelela they are already on the ship so to pump in more money is delaying the inevitable.Its like government bailing out SAA hoping for better days.
    MDK needs to get off his high horse (Hawwaam).

  11. Malvin says:

    Always when I read MDK’s comment i come away with the feeling that he is above this game and certainly above any other human being.
    If he doesnt like a criticism that those people are fools and they dont know what they are talking about.
    The tone of his responses is always harsh and we always tolerate this.
    Mr De Kock, u are certainly not above this game and most definetly not superior to anyone. U have certainly achieved alot but that does not give u the right to think that nobody else can have valuable input.

  12. Jonathan Harris says:

    So Jeb….What is the alternative and what will your roll be in it?

  13. Grant Maroun says:

    Why is it that we mustn’t play the blame game.we need to know why Huge bonuses were paid to PG management just a few years ago. Can you tell us why the 50% of stake money we were supposed to get back from every French race we put on was not given. Just a few examples. That was the RA job to look after our affairs but let’s just forget and forgive

  14. Grant m says:

    Mike the majority of trainer/owners and small owners is what keeps this game going. When more than half your population of horses and owners have left let’s see what tote turn over you going to have. These are the people that generate turn over. Instead of helping them you help the operators

  15. Brendon says:

    @MdK, I will start by acknowledging that you have an unenviable task at hand, as an RA director, and that most keyboard critics (including myself) may not fully appreciate nor fully understand the decisions taken on Monday regarding:

    1) The stakes agreement and amendment thereto; and

    2) To contribution of R13,1 million into racing’s stake pool.

    The aforementioned decisions affect all stakeholders in the industry and understandably stakeholders have expressed their frustration and dissatisfaction as the communication from the RA failed to:

    1) Elaborate on the on the rational thinking that led to the RA’s decisions; nor

    2) Address the heart of the problem, Phumelela’s unsustainable business model and whether its current leadership has put something on the table (or given any undertakings) to make good on the “original” Stakes agreement.

    The Stakes agreement, as I understand it, is the key instrument in the Horseracing industry that establishes the foundation for all stakeholders. The RA was entrusted with the key role and responsibility to “promote and advance the interests of members and the sport of racing” …and “one of the [Racing] Associations key roles is ensuring that the stakes agreement with Phumelela Gaming and Leisure Limited (PGL) is adhered to” (source: RA AFS 31 July 2019)

    In the absence of further communication from Phumelela and the RA on the subject matter, stakeholders will question the recent decisions to no end and understandably so.

    From the outside looking in, it appears that Phumelela has used the Stakes agreement as a funding instrument to address its solvency and liquidity challenges. Surely, the RA Board has a duty to reject same, given the fact the Phumelela distributed, over the past ten years, dividends of R669 million to its shareholders (approximately R1 billion on a pre-tax equivalent) to its shareholders – when it had “surplus” funds. Phumelela’s apparent failure to attempt to raise capital on the JSE or from other sources is the primary reason why owners and stakeholders at large have expressed their disbelief and dissatisfaction with the RA indulging Phumelela.

    R13.1 million is not a sustainable solution, nor is R131 million if it’s handed over to a leadership with a business model that continues to take the industry to depth that leaves you shaking your head in disbelief.

  16. Frans says:

    Well said Pappa George! Could not have expressed my sentiments better. I think we are all more than a little tired of MDK’s arrogance.

  17. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…Guy’s you all going to think that I’m blowing smoke up MDK backside but trust me it’s certainly not the case…Since knowing MDK and having a good few discussions with the man trust me faithfully he’s all for the punters..yes he might disagree with a few chirps made by us the punters and has come back firing but bottom line is that MDK is one of the 1st guys to acknowledge and understands that the punter is the most important tool in the racing industry along side with our owners…Pls God I hope and pray that whoever is on or coming on board to help swing the game around for the betterment of our so LOVED GAME the very best of luck…I have just one issue with a RA Board member for now and it’s W Smith and Racebook…David Safi put up a racing form site for free for 15 years and costing him millions of rands and million hours for someone know to come and try and copy his product it’s a absolute disgrace,,where are your working ethics ? MDK along with thousands of others praised David for introducing a Masterful product for the racing industry and to top it all it was for FREE..crazy what happened to the (working together) story

  18. Speedyvar says:

    ‘If racing is so bad, why are you still around? Why don’t you do us all a favour and get out?’”Mike Dr Kock.
    That was said to people who keep the tote pools ticking over and thus stakes being paid out.
    But now that the cupboards are bare there has been a change of heart.The cry now is — we’re asking everyone to get behind us. Let’s get racing back on track as soon as possible, work out ways to increase betting turnovers and stay hopeful”
    And you have to wonder if this statement still holds true into the future-

    I’m not sure we owe anyone an explanation about runners running below par”
    Are you still not sure?.

  19. Jeb says:

    Jonathan, my role at best is as a punter, going forward. I’m not looking for accolades or badges or titles.

    Wherever we are in life, accountability and responsibility must come before simply sweeping under the carpet.

    How did racing get into this mess and everybody just carries on?

    The reality is that 20 years ago, punters wouldn’t be part of this debate. We minded our own business trying to win the PA. But between social media and the politics and the circus that racing is today, we are now part of the gobsmacked audience.

    Carryovers are my main concern. It’s clear that we are not happy with the answers offered by TAB, yet they choose to feed us mud.

    Simply, trust has been broken. I don’t trust what gets said by anybody anymore. Full stop.

    Then when a respected icon like Mike de Kock basically craps us out as keyboard warriors without credibility, and tells us to go forward and be happy, I start asking, is this stuff worse than we thought? Do these people live in a parallel make believe universe where ego and frowns outnumber common sense?

    We were told 15 months ago that the great trainer, and I think it was that very astute finance man Charles Savage were now on the RA Board. I thought it was going to be fun watching them sort the nonsense out. Over a year later, we get told to accept it and play the cards we are dealt?

    That’s not good enough. The whole world is full of spin, notable absentee is Phumelela. Is their PR department under lockdown?

    As somebody wrote here. Do we actually trust Phumelela management?

    Answer this Jonathan in one line , please, I will start the sentence

    Phumelela can be trusted because ……..

  20. Danny Collins says:

    21 day lock down and lots of time on hand. I have to say, I have read every post Sporting Post article everyday so far. However, it is like ALL THE COVID -19 whatts apps doing the rounds! Lots of contents and no answers or cures. Everyday I read punters, owners, trainers asking questions from the people in the know! Today MDK was the first to speak and yet he said nothing! I am not going to slam MDK for not giving answers to all our questions. I really feel for him as he is now wearing two caps! I am also sure he did not ask for the second cap. The INDUSTRY forced him into this position because he is an ICON to SOUTH AFRICAN RACING in the rest of the WORLD people!! MDK put SA Racing on the cards with the rest of the world through his Dubai success!! PLEASE do not forget this!!!! He has done a lot for racing and he is STILL DOING A LOT FOR US….. I AGREE, I AM ALSO TIRED ON NOT GETTING ANSWERS FROM THE TOP. Can’t we STOP FIGHTING each other and start standing together and back these guys fighting on our behalves to SAVE THE RACING INDUSTRY, RIGHT NOW!! I agree with all your questions, dissatisfaction’s AND FRUSTRATIONS!!!! However, ladies and gentleman MDK will have all the serious players/breeders in his camp!! It is in all of their interest to make SA Racing succeed from here on. If they do not succeed, their stud farms are worthless in SA. YES, they are the absolute ELITE of our country and of SA HORSE RACING, but they still have to sell their horses to you and I at some stage! Adrian Todd, I feel for you my man. We were all set to open to the rest of the world selling our horses! COVID-19 could not have come at a worst time for the SA Racing Industry!! This is a fact! However, it is time for SA Racing to clean it’s act!! PG was and is a disaster and I am sure that some of the big guns have millions tied up in shares on the JSE!! The fact is PG will not disappear for lots of other reasons as well. Big money in acquisitions of betting operators were done in PG! (They should have bought into Hollywood….. my opinion, but they did not!) They now HAVE TO MAKE all of this work and profitable. The only way to really find out what the hell is going on financially in PG and the RA is to all come together, find a leader to represent us all in unity!! This is the only way you and I will ever be able to know what is going on and where all the money went to….. Let’s stop taking each other on and slate the people trying to save us! Let’s form a unity and then demand these answers to our questions!! THIS IS THE ONLY WAY or stay in the dark like a mushroom……… Jaoa De Matta has started this Owners and Trainers Association and it is getting traction from my understanding. Join up or shut-up!!

    Thank you to MDK and all involved trying to save racing! However, sooner (and maybe) rather than later, start playing open cards about where all the PG money went. If, you are betting that this Owners and Trainers Association will fail, you can keep on saying nothing. (and I know many of the trainers has not joined to represent their owners) so maybe you are right, nothing will come of this Association. (MANY others failed!!) However, if it does rise, there will be no hiding place and all will come out in the open!! It is time to open up and reveal all the wrong of the past and level with all the people who fund this business! God Bless all of you and stay safe.

  21. Pops says:

    Frankie,the last time South Africans were told,”Trust me,” was when President Mbeki said that concerning Jackie Selebi. And we know that trust did not turn out well.

  22. leon barnard says:

    Having MDK involved now in the RA and the running of horse racing in Gauteng will do us all the world of good. After Jooste and his bum boys raped the industry with massive salaries and bonuses to his puppets its going to take a massive effort to get the game we love back on track

  23. Leon Smuts says:

    We should never forget that all of us collectively are the game. Without punters and owners there is no game. We have all had a chance to trim back our appetites during this lock down and some will even discover that they don’t need to be involved or no longer want to be involved. This is powerful as participation should always be about enjoyment first and profits later. Reading all comments for many years and including my own, when last have we truly had enjoyment from being part of racing. I am never a supporter of boycotts and strike action but when something we love are being torn apart by greed and self interests I could rapidly change my mind and become a protester. We have an opportunity to force out the bad apples by boycotting racing if we see people who are not acting in the best interest of the sport in positions of power, and we should use this powerful mechanism to support a new dispensation for racing. This opportunity does not come along very often so why not unite for the betterment of our sport and the true stakeholders in the game.

  24. Michael Jacobs says:

    MDK is tainted because of his cosy relationship with the RA and Phumelela in the past, so he has to rebuild his credibility and trust in the industry. He can start by renouncing Phumelela and the RA, and joining up with the board of SA owners and trainers. He is a powerful player in the game, and he can be an agent for change, as he is a world class trainer and has influential links with the ruling family in Dubai.

    I hope he chooses to take the right path instead of sticking with the ruinous Phumelela/ RA cabal.

  25. Mark H says:

    As I understand the stakes deal which has never been posted on the RA website or made accessible to owners, stakes for owners are determined by the amount of money bet into the tote by punters. Since Mr de Kock has taken on the position of spokesperson for the RA, could he please explain to us why our exotics pools are relatively low when two million Betfair customers have been able to bet their stronger foreign currencies into SA pools since 2009? I am worried that betting amounts are not making their way into our pools which increases stakes.

    The tote published this press release in July 2009.
    Betfair clients bet into SA tote pools

    PHUMELELA Gold Enterprises and Betfair are delighted to announce that Betfair’s two million customers will be able to bet into South African tote pools and watch live streams of races from next week Monday 13 July. Tote bets on South African races taken on the Betfair platform will be channelled into TAB pools hosted on Phumelela’s Amtote betting system in Johannesburg. The ability to place tote bets on South African races on Betfair is an added service for Betfair customers and will assist in publicising racing in this country internationally. 

    Phumelela’s Group Chief Executive Officer Rian du Plessis is delighted with the deal and said: “The future of tote betting lies in the online environment and Betfair is a significant player in this market.
    “Betfair are an extremely progressive operation. This matches our ambitions and consequently we are examining other areas of co-operation,” added Du Plessis.
    Betfair’s Head of Horse Racing Business Development Steven Johnson said: “This deal further underlines our commitment to the support of international racing. We now have tote betting on our site in four jurisdictions – South Africa, Ireland, Australia and the UK – and this partnership will send money back into South African racing both from our exchange and the Tote product.”

  26. Donald says:

    Danny Collins you have summed up the situation of the state of horse racing in S.A. in general and in respect of the comments made by MdK in particular perfectly in my opinion !

  27. Jack Diels says:

    I was just wondering. with the reduction in stake money will the reduction also apply to nominations & acceptance fees, trainers & jockey %?

    1. Editor says:

      They mentioned
      Highveld – R67,5k (Entry & Declaration fee of R78)

      Western Cape – R40k (Entry & Declaration fee of R46)

      Eastern Cape – R35k (Entry & Declaration fee of R40)

      Northern Cape – R25,5k (Entry & Declaration fee of R29)

      Here, Jack

  28. Jack Diels says:

    with the reduction in stake money won will the trainers win commission percentage also be reduced?

  29. Ex betfair user says:

    When will Betfair be back?

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