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Who Remembers Breakfast Racing?

What's the answer to inject new enthusiasm?

Do we have to reinvent the wheel to save horseracing?

The few twilight meetings at Durbanville with live music in 2018 seemed to work, but there appears to have been little tangible enthusiasm to promote them.

Night racing is a rarity in Gauteng, but it’s a genuine hit in KZN where visiting owners and trainers rave about the ambience and vibe of the Gold Circle TGIF party at Hollywoodbets Greyville.

Candiese Lenferna captured this striking red sky at Hollywoodbets Greyville

In 1996 history was made when Hollywoodbets Greyville became the first racetrack in South Africa to successfully install floodlights, adding another dimension to the world of thoroughbred horseracing in the province.

The local operator has come a long way from 1993 when Natal raceclubs re-introduced breakfast racing, for two Saturday meetings in March of that year, at Scottsville and Clairwood.

The meetings were an extension of an experiment initiated in 1992, where breakfast racing was introduced to avoid clashes with major other, local, sporting events.

The Natal Clubs felt that the experiment would not be complete unless morning meetings were also tested on days where there were no other sport events in Natal.

The first of these meetings was held at Scottsville.

Attendance was marginally down, and the Pick Six pool took a knock in comparison to the previous year. A computer failure halfway through the meeting did little to cheer things up. There is no record as to what happened to the experiment.

What would you do to give racing a fresh, new edge?

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21 comments on “Who Remembers Breakfast Racing?

  1. Graeme Hawkins says:

    I cannot remember when it was, but I know it happened – PE staged a highly successful breakfast meeting many years ago and from an attendance perspective it was a great success – not sure about the turnover. Perhaps someone out there has pictures of the occasion?

    1. Editor says:

      Thanks Graeme
      Cecil Pienaar?

  2. Pops says:

    Think PE staged more than one breakfast meeting.
    Did the first race start at 08.30?
    When did night racing begin at Newmarket?

    1. Editor says:

      Pops, night racing at Newmarket produced a turnout of more than 7000 for the opening night on September 29 1996. A record R8-million was wagered on the nine race programme.

    2. Editor says:

      Pops, more…
      Greyville staged South Africa’s first-ever modern era night meeting on 16 February 1996. The meeting apparently proved a great success, attracting a crowd of over 7300.

      But we go back to the 1945/1946 racing season when Joseph Dorfman formed a syndicate which established the Vereeniging Turf Club, whose main objective was to race horses both by day and night.
      In 1946 Dorfman travelled to the USA to study the methods employed in night racing and to buy the necessary equipment. Night race meetings were held at The Vaal racecourse for a few months. The Jockey Club was opposed to the meetings and had consequently brought in a rule stating no racing under Jockey Club rules could go ahead after 19h00.Furthermore, any trainer or jockey participating in unauthorised racing risked having their licence withdrawn.
      Dorfman went ahead with his plan. The inaugural meeting was washed out by a violent hailstorm which shattered the floodlights and the next meeting was also washed out. Meetings were subsequently held but came to an end after a few months.

  3. Dylan says:

    I think breakfast meeting make perfect sense and would be great in the week, especially if they had some decent races. July gallops are a absolute buzz in the morning. Would love to see this happen and some stage and see how it does. Many companies spend a lot of money on speakers and breakfast events.

  4. james says:

    the fresh new edge for racing.

    1.it must go back to the old club system

    2.we need new faces on all the boards

    thats the only way out in my opinion.
    restart the game.

  5. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Hello Mr Ed, geez yes, I remember this. We were at the first one, don’t remember the computer failure.

    I also remember a breakfast at Summerveld, then a bus trip into the Midlands to visit Stud farms with lunch -organized by Gold Circle.

    Never got to the Clairwood one’s. No pics, sadly

    Wow, this brings back memories ?

  6. Akesh Singh says:

    Those were the days when the public supported racing no matter what Any concept introduced wax supported and had a fair chance.
    PS I remember in 1992 MJ Odendaal riding in the P E breakfast meeting and then flying to another race meeting later in the day…was a first at the time for a Jock to ride two meetings in the same day.

  7. Cecil Pienaar says:

    I remember when Sunday racing was introduced, the first few was also washed out

    The racing gods eventually gave in …

  8. Mike Watt says:

    Graeme is correct about PE. It was ’91 or ’92. I remember I had a horse called Royal Phathom running (trained by Sandy Fletcher) and we could not get a bet on in Jo’burg. I think Sandy got all the money that day. If I recall correctly it was a Saturday morning and we were racing at Germiston that afternoon.

  9. Shanil says:

    Get rid of merit rating. Only race on poly in Kzn during inclement weather. Go check the stats on poly with respect to carryovers.In this way the form book will work better as turf racing does not need a crystal ball to find winners. More winnings=more punters .

  10. Sherwin Sewlal says:

    I think a breakfast meeting would be great.
    One week, they can have a Friday night meeting at Greyville … Then the following week, they can have a Sunday breakfast meeting (probably at Fairview)

    Obviously KZN, GAUTENG and CAPE TOWN won’t be able to stage a Sunday breakfast meeting because they already race on the Saturday and Sunday.

    Another thing that would be nice on a Saturday is to make one meeting start at 11am in the morning, and the other starting at 3pm.
    This will allow local racing to spread throughout the day, instead of just roughly 5 hours
    Much better than having one meeting start at 12pm, and the other at 1pm.

    1. Editor says:

      Sherwin, the meeting start times are often linked to international requirements it seems – eg France requesting increased gaps in our local race times some time ago

  11. Cecil Pienaar says:

    I am hoping to see Night Racing at Scottsville in my time. Floodlights have become very affordable and a lot cheaper to run…

    1. Editor says:


  12. Mohamed says:

    Wouldn’t it make sense to have an early start in summer especially in joburg when afternoon showers and lightning seems to affect the completion of an entire meeting..

  13. PL.NEL says:

    PE staged a few breakfast meetings with the first off at about 11am. In 1999 at the last meeting of the century the PA kicked off at around 12 am with the favorite trained by Stanley Greef and ridden by stable jock Charlie Roberts which duly arrived fourth. The winner was ridden by jock Squeaky Butler & second Gavin Venter for trainer Arthur Miller. Both horses were over 40/1 and with a few other tough results landing big payouts on the day. PE was a first as alluded by Graeme with Pick six and bipot being testing grounds. A small center with strong racing history coupled by decent turnovers with low outlays albeit tough incentives. Sounds like good business, add a pick six bonus carry over once a month and it might even be profitable. Come on Holywood ,, why don’t you add your pick six pool onto Tote and boost for a bigger pool. My guess would be at least 4 million coupled.

  14. Steve Reid says:

    Way back in the recesses of my grey matter I also recall a meeting or two held at Newmarket and that started way before the normal starting times and ended early afternoon. I would with very little certainty place these meetings in the 1998-1989 time period.

  15. bob kistnasamy says:

    Interesting Ideas and comment in favour of breakfast meeting. With the racing public starved of local racing, it makes sense for a return to the Sunday Breakfast but start at 09:00 OR 09:30.
    Perhaps create a competition (points system) for most winners in the owner/trainer/jockey and punter. Punters to predict overall Jockey/Trainer/Owner winners over the competition period.
    Why not a partnership with Aussie racing with co-mingling on a SA Jackpot or Quintile of races pool.

    Lets hope that the “Racing Hot Shots” are reading the innovative thinking of the readers.

    What about introducing racing previews from knowledgeable panels such as ex jocks and others such as currently done in Hong Kong. SA racing needs to bounce back.

  16. Pops says:

    Thanks Ed for info.Always thought night racing under lights was first held at Newmarket before Greyville. Now have been set straight.Thanks

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