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Unity Call To Owners & Trainers

South African Board of Owners & Trainers

South African horseracing has reached the crossroads. Years of questionable decisions, a deterioration of respect for the spirit and ethos of the game, the increasingly diverse options open to the leisure rand and plain economic reality have wreaked havoc.

Then along came COVID-19 and the gun went off.

Passionate racing man and owner Joao Da Mata tells the Sporting Post that he hopes to ignite new hope for unity amongst likeminded folk who have the best interests of the game at heart.

“Simply put, we are forming a nationwide trainers and owners group. Our mission is to grow to large enough numbers that we can gain a foothold in negotiations with regards to the long term sustainability of the sport of horse racing and its associated by products.

He admits that the industry faces tough times ahead but in this particular instance he says it’s the trainers and owners that are required to continue to provide the product for the show to carry on and provide it under tougher financial circumstances.

“The leisure rand will be slashed once this crisis is over but horse people will always be horse people and the current business model needs overhauling.”

He tells how every trainer he has spoken to happens to be an owner as well and every single one of them is happy to take 10 steps back provided they all can see that NEW leaders have a plan in place for the industry to eventually become at least financially more stable.

“ Prior to CV19 it was already tough for many in the industry. I am asking you and everyone out there to consider joining us. We will not disclose members names until we reach critical mass.We will respect everyone’s privacy and when we reach our desired number of members (FREE) we will elect a board. We will then start to negotiate.

“I am stating for the record that this has been tried before and it has failed. Even the RA could never gain mass numbers. The RA , for reasons well documented, was included in conversations from the start and remained there to represent ALL owners when indeed they did not.”

Joao says his role in this process is quite simple.

“I will collate all this data and keep it safe. I will continue to lobby non members and once this is ready to be launched I will allow democracy to take place and we will elect our board.”

He points out with enthusiasm that this needs to be a non profit non dividend business.

“We will all have duties to raise funds in the future but for now I think owners and trainers put in enough already. All we need is a vote.”

He is confident that the numbers will grow.

“History tells us that any previous body that has been attempted was done so with unclear agenda’s. So for us , we are hoping it’s just a matter of time before we hit sufficient numbers.”

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28 comments on “Unity Call To Owners & Trainers

  1. Gman says:

    Most owners are business ppl get everything in black and white the gentlemans agreement is no longer valid.Stand firm for current owners and future owners.#KEEPSARACINGALIVE

  2. Joao says:

    Once I get eh numbers high enough everything will be in black and white. What I don’t want to do now is declare who is a supporter as people are still fearful of being victimised and bullied if they are know to be supporters.

    So yes everything in Black and White.

    For now Ill gather information and keep it safe.

  3. Pieta says:

    The PUNTER excluded again?….good luck to you going forward.
    Most punters don’t even read this nonsense……they have or are moving on.

  4. jai says:

    covid 19 will teach the world that fake industries will not survive .

  5. Joao says:

    The punter is not excluded indefinitely but for now we need unity with licensed individuals.

  6. Beatle says:

    Pieta, FFS make your own punters group and leave us owners alone

  7. Martin says:

    It’s the right time to give it a go.

  8. Rudi says:

    Joao f youwithout punters you owners a nothing. The world are in this thing not only s.a. . A red robot you stop at peoples lives are at play here. Let the gov erment do the right thing here and they are.

  9. Cj Aucamp says:

    Black and white PLEASE. 30 Years back we said. Vertrou iemand tot hy hom verkeerd bewys…vandag se ons wantrou iemand tot hy hom reg bewys…(veral in die perde game)

  10. Len Bloch says:

    I would be referred to as a “small” owner in the scheme of things.
    Two odd years back I had 7 horses in training spread over 6 trainers.
    I am now down to two in training with one trainer.
    I started reducing my string about two and a half years back when I saw “the writing on the wall”,
    When an initiative was started in Natal,I joined immediately but unfortunately things did not work out as planned,much to my disgust because it was very much a situation that could and should have been a win win situation for owners and trainers.
    The powers that be at the top of the tree made no effort whatsoever to assist the initiative as it would have challenged their iron grip on the industry.
    My last e mail to Sporting Post re problems in the industry was submitted to the “top of the tree” without even the decency of an answer or reply by the “tree”.
    I love the game and the thrill of seeing my colours in a race,win or lose.
    The time is now right to challenge decisions being made that affect the long term future of our sport by the “top of the tree”.
    I am in full support of the new initiative proposed and encourage all owners to sign up.
    There are many questions that need to be asked and answered mainly to do with with,what has happened to all the money generated over the years leaving us in the perilous situation we find ourselves in today.
    Costs are rising and we have been informed(no smoke without fire) of an impending reduction in stakes.
    I do not race for profit but for the love of the horse and the sport.
    Sporting Post,I would be quite happy for this post to appear in your latest edition.
    Len Bloch.

  11. Donald says:

    Joao , that you have stuck your head above the wall and stated your intentions and case clearly is to be recommended and although I am not an owner , I was a punter for 50 years , and in the last about 10 years have seen the executives nominated to govern / manage the horse racing industry ” crash and burn ” as if there was no tomorrow ! You have set yourself a long and difficult task as you will be up against these same failed executives who serve only their self interests and therefore will obstruct your path at every turn.

    To Pieta I say when you attempt something like this you cannot be ” all things to all people ” in the start up phase especially with no financial backing , to Beatle , if you are indeed an owner , your post is not only rude but lacks imagination !

  12. Pieta says:

    Beatle, I trust you eventually had a good nights sleep?
    Sadly I can’t name you 5 punters that I know…..

    But I can I can tell you that I feel privileged that you as an owner chose to engage with me…..I will never forget it.

    All the best and stay safe.

  13. Brian says:

    Pieta, I’m a punter. So what, right now those running the show are not giving punters what we want. if this chap wants to get things together so we can get a product we like support.

    Being a punter doesn’t make you the Bee all and end all.

    We’re not special and certainly no more special than other players in the industry.

    Are you an owner?

  14. Joao says:


    Again we “the masses” are at loggerheads over minor details. Like Prof Peterson says ” we have far more in common than not”

    With that I thank you for the comments above. I know it will be hard. I also know that in a way I am representing the punters because if we lose stakes and lose owners and lose horses then we will have 6 horse fields with 4 horses owned by the same owner. I like a punt myself and I know that is not good for punting. So punter don’t stress we actually want the game to thrive and be prosperous. That will have a positive effect on your punting …..trust me.

    As for Len , thank you. I am not sure why the previous group floundered. I am sure that it was tough going as it will be this time round. What I can say is we as a sport need you to stay in the game. So please if you have not yet then sign up and nominate your trainer as your voice.

    Our goal is to gain enough numbers so that we have leverage its not difficult to work out that once we have that we will NOT accept previous incumbents that have plundered the sport to remain in the sport.

    BUT we cannot go to war with guns blazing. We have to do it with democracy and restraint. We need numbers. That is all.

    I sound like a stuck record but that is a fact. Once we have numbers we publish our constitution and we announce our board and our structure. Then they have to listen.

    There was a recent announcement for example for a position within racing. The salary was about R2m thats how someone in the workplace would look at the salary.

    As a racing person I looked at it as 20 maiden races we could rather have had.

    If you think like me sign up.

  15. Hilton witz says:

    The only time you will see proper change in racing is when powerful wealthy people like the Slacks and Ruperts get involved as not only have they got wealth but have the right creditation…All others will fail as we have seen in the past ..

  16. Pieta says:

    Brian, in the late 90’s I had about 10-12 perde….pics behind the bar….knew jocks,trainers….you know the story.
    Those pics are now in boxes in the garage somewhere.
    Today I own thousands of perde around the world, every time I open any card every horse belongs to me , The beauty is that I don’t have to pay anything.

  17. Joao says:


    YOU are one of the reason’s I have created this group. Because we keep losing people like that. Had your overall experience been better handled perhaps you would still have a share or 2.

    You actually give fuel to our fire.

    Again we have far more in common than apart.

    Our combined weakness has led us to where we are today. Our silence over the last 20 years and mostly our bickering and not standing together.

  18. Michael Jacobs says:

    Joao has started something positive and proactive and I think all stakeholders should support him.

    I am a punter and a vocal one at that, but for now us punters should step back and let the stakeholders with “skin in the game” do what ttey need to do. If the ruinous stranglehold of Phumelela, the RA and Tellytrack can be broken and vanquished, and a new strategy, operating model and credible leadership be put in place, the punters will see the benefits. Maybe as a start all owners and trainers should resign en masse from the RA and join Joao’s new entity.

    So the punters should step back and keep a watching brief for now. Let’s not add to the vitriol and the divisiveness by harping on about “our interests”!

  19. Pieta says:

    Agree with you Michael.

    I wish Joao and the team every thing of the best.👍

  20. Christo says:

    Owners and trainers failed because management was not prepared to stand for right or wrong. RA is a farce , management there for the money. They pay bonuses to keep members. Racing need people with the interest of racing first. I left as an owner because l was told by Mr de Kock of the jockey club that racing do not need small owners with one or two horses.

  21. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…Joao if you don’t mind me asking did we ever meet up with you about 2 years ago at the mugg & bean at Bedford Centre it was myself and David Safi ? if it is are you living back in SA now ? if i remember correctly I think you said that you were now living in the UK

  22. Sergen says:

    At least this covid virus teaches us not to gamble. Want to see how racing goes on after the lockdown. Most people woll not have money to gamble or forgotten how to gamble

  23. Steve Reid says:

    Joao has my support for the establishment of an interest group that represents owners that are not RA members, or are RA members that want to join regardless. It has never made sense that the majority of owners are not members of the RA yet are bound by decisions made without their input.The only winners were a handful who profited obscenely at owners expense. They have all left the sinking ship.

    It is heartening to note that it appears that at this stage efforts are being made to gather support only and no one has been declared leader with already decided constitutions, board members and plans to challenge the establishment. Lessons need to be learnt from previous failures, Owners have been the masters of their own destiny previously by being absolutely apathetic and/or unwilling to challenge the status quo,

    The win here would be recognition by the RA that owners outside of their organisation play a vital role in the future of this sport, and hopefully a place at the negotiation table will be extended. The road forward is going to be extremely tough on owners and it is imperative that all parties work together amicably to give racing its best chance when Phumelela folds.

    Good luck to you all.

  24. Donald says:

    Joao , may I suggest that you contact that group of owners in K.Z.N that tried something similar in the not to distant past to establish the reasons for their failure so that you gain from their experience. If you have not done that already and do not know who they are please ask the Ed to give you my email address and I will send you a name in confidence so that you can give him a call.

    I wish you well in your endeavors which I can assure you will be a hard road and not one to be traveled by the fainthearted !

  25. Joao says:


    any assistance to gain momentum is appreciated.

  26. Ronelle says:

    Mary Slack is all for the Good of Racing our only hope forward

  27. Brett Maselle says:

    I no longer hold colours.

    I commend any organisation that has the will to put the sport of horse racing first and to put an end to horrible status quo.

    Below is a copy of an email I received from Patrick Davis of Phumelela many years ago.

    By the time you have read the email, you may understand why the formation of another organisation is imperative.

    ” Subject 2012 stakes

    Dear Advocate Maselle

    Further to my email to you yesterday I wish to add the following.

    We as Phumelela regard the owners of the horses who compete on our race tracks as the most important cog in the wheel of suppliers to the sport of thoroughbred horse racing. That said however, please appreciate that it is well nigh impossible for us to deal on a daily basis directly with the needs and wants of each and every part owner or owner of a horse.

    Whilst we would also love to attend personally to the needs and wants of each and every trainer, jockey and groom, and every other stakeholder, it is simply impracticable. No other administrator of a sport does this or is capable of doing this. It is for this reason we encourage you and all owners or part owners of horses to be members of the Racing Association.

    A duly representative and elected board of the Racing Association represents an ideal forum with whom we can I interact regularly. We similarly encourage all other stakeholders to establish similar associations that represents a majority of their constituents.

    You have chosen to conduct your affairs outside of the official and duly elected Association of owners. This is your prerogative, which we respect. However you need to bear in mind that, if we were to permit regular interactions with stakeholders outside of the various representative forums, we actually undermine the authority of these forums. This defeats the object.

    Should you prefer not to join the Racing Association you are welcome to address your issues through alternative forums such as your trainer/s and jockeys for discussion by the appointed representatives at the relevant industry Liason committee meetings.

    Whilst we greatly appreciate your custom, we would rather lose it than compromise the integrity of the sport.

    Yours Sincerely

    Patrick Davis

    Racing Executive

    I have intentionally not commented on the content of the email. I prefer that you draw your own conclusions.

  28. Joao says:

    Thanks Brett,

    Read it loud and clear and SHOULD be a warning to all. Either deal with who we accept or don’t deal at all with us. Bearing in mind that the 2 firms mentioned above worked hand in gave.

    This is my point and why Im working hard to get us all on the same page so that via our representatives (our trainers ) each and every one of us has a say.

    Exactly the way parliament works ( in the UK) as an owner in KZN I should be able to raise a question with one of my trainers and that trainer should raise it with the elected representative and that person MUST then raise it with whom ever comes out of this mess that we are in in charge.

    We need unity for this to be achieved and We need numbers.

    Memorandum and 1st draft of our constitution is nearly ready.

    Have a good easter weekend.

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