Home » Racing & Sport » KZN Move May Be On Cards For Kimberley Quartet

KZN Move May Be On Cards For Kimberley Quartet

Rationalisation - will East Cape racing be next?

Multiple Northern Cape Champion trainer Cliffie Miller heads a quartet of Flamingo Park trainers who may be taking up residence at the Ashburton Training Centre outside Pietermaritzburg soon.

The charismatic Hollywoodbets-sponsored Kimberley veteran told the Sporting Post that he was considering a possible move if Northern Cape racing ceases to continue.

The likely quartet for KZN could include Jarett Rugg, Tienie Prinsloo and Sarel von Willingh Smit.

Approximately 120 horses could  be  set for the interprovincial move, of which Cliffie Miller trains 52.

A decision was awaited from the racing operator in the next few weeks.

In the broader picture, the issue of rationalisation of racing centres, must be high on the agenda for forward planners in South African at the current time as the structures crumble under the pressure of years of crisis management, and a general lack of urgency and assertion in making the really tough and unpopular decisions when they needed to be made.

How many jurisdictions can we really maintain at profitable levels? Maybe three?

East Cape racing must be under the spotlight, with a recent suggestion reaching us that PE needs to move to Cape Town, with Milnerton being developed and trainers split between Philippi and Durbanville.

The harsh reality is that it’s all about survival and we are all going to have to adapt quickly. Or become a statistic in the history books.

  • Ed – this editorial has been revised from the original after a miscommunication

Have Your Say

Comments Policy
The Sporting Post encourages everyone to feel free to comment in the spirit of enlightening the topic being discussed, to add opinions or correct errors. All posts are accepted on the condition that The Sporting Post can at any time alter, correct or remove comments, either partially or entirely.

All posters are required to post under their real and verified names, you can adjust your display name on your account page or to send corrections privately to the Editor. The Sporting Post will not publish comments submitted anonymously or under pseudonyms.

The views of any individuals that are published are NOT necessarily the views of The Sporting Post.

30 comments on “KZN Move May Be On Cards For Kimberley Quartet

  1. Johann Liebenberg says:

    You gave it a good go Cliffie. You fought hard for Flamingo. Although the fight was lost in the end you should be very proud of the effort. Sad day for all of us, Mondays in Kimberley will never be the same. All the best in KZN!!! We will be sending some horses soon.

  2. donald bradshaw says:

    Right decision Cliffie , Kimberly will nor survive the pressure you were already under and Covid _ 19 is the final nail ?

    Will be following your progress in K.Z.N. and wish you and all the other trainers that will relocate a bright future in Gold Circle country !

  3. hilton witz says:

    i take it these kimberly horses will race off their grass ratings if they have one or off their sand rating if they havent had a grass rating?

    1. Editor says:

      Checking with Lennon

    2. Editor says:

      Hi Hilton
      Lennon Maharaj, NHA Senior Handicapper, kindly responded to your query:

      Horses with established dual ratings will run off their grass ratings on grass. Horses new to the grass will run off their sand ratings and will be reassessed within 3 runs.

  4. Jay August says:

    Race programmers have to think out of the box for sand-only horses moving to grass or poly en masse.

    Most FP horses run off lower ratings than the normal turf population and will most likely run at sufferance, if they escape elimination, in even the lowest handicap races. The sand median rating was 57 compared to the current grass median rating of 71.

    On the assumption that the population of horses moving to others centres is representative of the past, the program will have to be more inclusive in catering for these animals if their move is to be encouraged and supported.

  5. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Cliffie, man ek sien uit na jou en die Ander 3 manne se skuif Natal toe. Ooh Ashburton is Maar n stil plek 😅 Tot nou toe. Sien julle eersdaargs by die Training Centre Clubhouse en natuurlik HWBets Scottsville.

    Ek sien uit na julle eerste wen en interview met Deez in Afrikaans asb ! LoL

    Sarel, Tienie, Jarett and Cliff welcome (soon) to The Kingdom of the Zulu. Seriously happy for you guys 👍🏼

  6. waynefouche says:

    They can’t be serious that PE racing will have to move to Cape Town!!?? Surely PE can still sustain Friday racing? So far no comments from any of the PE people?

    1. Editor says:

      Strategic value and profitability must surely dictate in the new age.
      Rationalisation must be on the cards in the national scheme of things
      That said, we all love PE racing

  7. Oscar says:

    I guess Mr Cliffie had,had enough.
    It is certainly not a good thing with the threats of closure hovering over your heads
    at every nook and turn.
    Definitely this decision taken by Cliffie was done after immense soul searching.
    Perhaps Mondays could still be utilised for Kimberley trained horses difference been they will be running on the polytrack.
    Well come to KZN champ.
    Where the sun never sets.

  8. Cliffie says:

    That’s how it should be because we cannot be competitive with our sand ratings. If i nominate from here to race on poly it changes to the turf rating

  9. STEVE says:

    We need to bring the Vaal Sand Track back PLEASE!!!!

  10. Steve Reid says:

    How about some facts and not hearsay and/or speculation.

    If performances and turnovers are taken into account, and this is a rational decision, then PE should stay and Cape Town should close. That being said, the win for everyone would be for Cape Town to go on its own and stop draining the lifeline of it’s host – this centre has been a real parasite for years. MoD, Ruperts, Kieswetters et al go for it I hear donations are urgently needed. The new GM took a gamble, best of luck to him, he will need it reporting up the chain.

    Many years ago the Karoo was the breeding capital of the country. It never had a racetrack that I am aware of.

  11. Jay August says:

    Everything has an economic value or it fails the test of viability. Nothing has only strategic value. Steve’s comments are very valid.

    Mr Evans will soon be put to the test on whether he acts independently or for a very narrow, and apparently strategic, interest group.

    I’m not holding my breathe. Narrow interest groups without a mature estimation of their place have always been the bane of racing in SA. This time is unlikely to be different.

    Hopefully the smaller and more diverse interest groups will wake up to the challenge sooner rather than later, and not wait for utopia shaped by others under the guise of universal goodwill.

  12. Martin le Roux says:

    My five cents worth. I for one don’t believe that trimming the industry will serve any purpose whatsoever.It will lead to congestion of nominations with owners of average horses having to wait weeks if not months for a run. Until recently due to financial constraints, I was a privilege holder for 25 yrs. I certainly would have run for half stake money to have a run. Maybe just maybe, it should be that venues should be expanded and not closed down. Allow privately owned courses linked to TAB and Tellytrack under the auspices of the NHA to operate in centres such as Bloem,East London, Nelspruit etc.I eagerly await the expert critics. This approach will also expand the interest in horse racing as right now we just keep on preaching to the converted

  13. PL.NEL says:

    Race courses cannot sustain heavy traffic, the winter hammers Jhb. Port Elizabeth has a 50bar polytrack and a proper sized grass track which is definitely superior to Greyville. Add to that virtually no meetings canceled and no heavy brass entertainment plus competitive turn over for its weekly slot. Add another weekly meeting at the cost of Cape Town for the winter months, especially as CT battles to fill these races and PE will shine even brighter. Some common sense please, most of the tracks are over raced. Just perhaps CT should look at a sand track or is this just too below SP. Snob Parade.

  14. donald bradshaw says:

    Hi Martin , you asked for expert critic , unfortunately I am no expert but your suggestion to have horse racing in the centers you mention makes not only no sense but is not viable. Race courses by their very nature are huge pieces of real estate that require major infrastructure , admin , costly maintenance and for 90 % of the time lie idle with only the birds in the rafters of the grandstands in attendance.

    To your suggestion to have privately owned race courses all I can say is who in their right mind would invest in such a project ? A simple cost / benefit analysis would show such a venture as throwing money down a black hole !

  15. Jay August says:

    Martin, anything is possible for an entrepreneur given protection from overarching bureaucracy and punitive taxation. What can be achieved under more liberal operating and economic conditions is not knowable until someone actually attempts to achieve what now seems impossible.

    Racing has been burdened with over taxation and excessive bureaucracy for well over a hundred years. Initially it gained monopoly status as the sole form of legal gambling and so acquiesced to some degree to the meddling of provincial and state actors who took more than their fair share.

    In the 1980s racing started to lose its grip on that monopoly but was not cut lose from the burden of taxation or bureaucracy. Fast forward to today where we inhabit a complex and competitive environment coupled with serious political and socioeconomic challenges, where racing has become a costly business, easily out competed by competitors for the gambling rand, and operates an old school revenue model unsuited to the modern environment.

    If the sport is to survive the long run and grow it will need to find someone with exceptional political acumen and nous to negotiate the industry the space it needs to correct its image, become more inclusive, and create a sustainable administrative environment which supports entrepreneurial vision and embraces change.

    I read continuously, however, from multiple insiders and experts that we would be better off under one umbrella in a commune of sorts. That may work in the short term but I seriously doubt it will be the long term salvation of racing.

    Your question is the one question which should be being asked and answered. Instead we debate which centre is next to close. Kudos to you for pointing this out.

  16. Leon Lotz says:

    We just building a new string of horses, Kimberley is out,if PE is also out myself and 5 new owners are also out.I know nothing but if they want to race in three centres racing in SA will die faster than ever. Is this the only plan they can ever make,and that is closing down. I am now convinced trainers will not get enough horses to train,there will not be any breeders left.Sad really sad.I will use my horses to round up sheep while we still have that Privilege. Atleast Julios will have nice riding horses for his workers

  17. Viv says:

    I think that Mr. Martin you have a smart and innovative idea about new private tracks.

    If attached to Totatalisator betting I would be of the opinion that the private tracks would / should be entitled to certain percentage of the betting takeout. There are other areas that would bring in revenue as well.
    Biggest and deadliest concern! The corporate Management.
    The momemt the business/ track starts showing profits and you have the wrong team up there its a disaster. They start motivating to bring in cronies. Then starts special increments for “Certain ” individuals that over time is only leading the business financials south bound.
    If this area can be properly managed, in my opinion the racing industry will not be where it is currently which would then mean your private track should work.
    Oh, not to forget, when all these cronies are in office together; somehow a lot of things get approvals for expenses that’s not necessary.

    There needs to be more competition. Bring in more private trainers. I don’t say training horses could be easy, but neither can it be that hard.
    The relevant authorities that deal with this area makes a big deal for someone to take a trainers license out…..many protocols.
    You got to wonder if its the same for someone who has a passion for show jumping and acquiring a horse to pursue these interests?
    There maybe protocols in place, but not making it so difficult to pursue I would think.

    Now bring your private trainers into your private track, provide stabling; and these would bring in additional revenues.
    It would also give the current horse racing trainers a go.
    Competition all round for punters and trainers alike. It’s great payouts when small centre trainers come to more popular venues and cause major upsets.
    Sharing of fees for trainers nominating horses to the private track should also be considered from the authorities that deal with this.

    Another big negative in horse racing is that we do not have an authority that can oversee the stipendary stewards. Over my years of racing there has been many times punters would take to Sporting Post to air their views of some kind of controversy pertaining to inconsistency in this area.
    How can anyone who has an important job that oversees an industry where peoples money is involved not have an ombudsman to address the relevant.
    Some sort of body / authorities need to oversee this department, in Horseracing; and more especially that has no other affiliation to any body within the horse racing industry.
    Then we can have these stipes ply their trade at the private tracks as well.

    It’s quite clear this is an old industry with old fashioned thinking and no new ideas. Perhaps this is why everything is so wrong with this industry. And in my opinion there maybe other truths in what I discussed above.

  18. donald bradshaw says:

    Jay and Viv you both make comments that are supportive of the construction and provision of private race courses in South Africa , are rightly critical of bureaucracy , taxation , corporate management and many other matters / issues that would stand in the way of such an ambitious project but none of you provide the ” nuts and bolts ” of how to circumnavigate these these problems and actually state how such a horse racing business model would be approved , financed , constructed , populated by both owners and horses , managed and run as a profitable private business enterprise ?

    I realize that my above questions are of such a comprehensive nature that any answer would be an impossibility in the comments platform so maybe you can take up the recent offer of the S.P. and send your solutions to their mailbag !

  19. Jay August says:

    Donald – I cannot provide you with anything other than a framework. Martin’s comment, however, unlocked a mental block I am guilty of as well as many of us in this industry, that of only seeing the possibility as it exists now or a variation or combination of the present and past, rather than what it could be which is unknown and needs vision.

    I have many times attempted to justify racing as a business beyond its pure enjoyment, but have always reached the same conclusion – that racing as a business (at the scale of my potential investment) cannot out compete my investment dollar placed elsewhere. But, I also reject other industries for the same reason so it is not simply a racing problem.

    With a more benign regulatory and taxation environment, however, it could be different. If the industry is to grow and encourage entrepreneurship it will need to find someone who is able to champion the industry to government, negotiate room for expansion, understand the competitive landscape and negotiate the competitive threats, all with the aim of creating a regulatory environment conducive to entrepreneurial attempt at redesign. Note that I am not suggesting monopoly of the tote or a return to the past – that is a losing hand to play.

    Nothing will change much in racing until the regulatory path is smoothed and eased. Without that we simply are in a continual downward spiral, right sizing or down sizing continuously, until eventually the industry is beyond any more attempts to do so.

  20. Martin le Roux says:

    Thank you Donald, Jay and Viv for your comments. My train of thought was instigated by the on going racing protocol in a country like Zimbabwe. What would happen if the Kimberley trainers were offered a management buy out on favourable terms. All other protocols with regard to TAB, noms and telletrack remain the same. As Viv says with the right management in place it could work. Start by bridging with the local casino in some way. Who knows the common ground we could find by sitting down and talking to each other. All I am asking is why are we so ready to throw in the towel. There are many of us who would only be to glad in our early retirement to investigate these avenues at a nominal expenses rate. As the MOD ladies did, commit to a different approach. Closing tracks is not the solution, finding ways to keep them operating is. Less tracks will ultimately mean less owners less breeders less trainers, less groomes and many job losses

  21. Graeme Hawkins says:

    This thread has developed into a very interesting and complex debate. Ultimately the future of the South African horse racing industry, in whatever shape or form, depends on the breeding industry’s ability, from a financially viable and sustainable perspective, to continue to produce the numbers of thoroughbreds required to sustain racing in racing centres dotted around the country. The clear and present danger is that the breeding industry will not produce enough foals to sustain field sizes going forward. But like I said, this all important debate should not be confined (with all due respect) to this forum – if we are serious about a viable future, then the matter of a viable breeding industry needs to be urgently addressed. One thing is for sure, South Africa, unlike Mauritius or Hong Kong, can never depend on imports for racing to survive in the long term.

  22. Jay August says:

    Graeme, breeders receive signals from the racing industry, locally mostly and internationally to a lesser degree, and that allows their operations to be scaled in either direction.

    You are correct in saying that soon we may have too few foals produced in SA to make racing viable in current format. We are also likely now at the point where down scaling is turning into abandonment for many breeders and that is dangerous territory.

    The locally desired good, however, is a racing product which produces increased local interest through increased betting spend both locally and internationally. The foal is not the desired good, rather it is the result of various elements and signals which lead to its production and which ultimately give us the desired good.

    The challenge, therefore, is to drive betting spend, in whatever form, lower takeout and increase stakes, thereby increasing the return from racing for owners and punters. We also must ensure that racing’s livestock asset, its horses, have longer racing careers and return more to their owners than at present. The attrition rate in horse racing is very high and probably not an optimal use of a scare resource.

    I am not sure in what capacity you speak when you make the above comment. Assuming that you have your Operator hat on and are concerned about your ability to maintain your racing product under conditions of dwindling foal production, surely then it would be best for you to ensure that your racing product attracts more interest which then will send a signal to breeders to increase foal production.

    If ultimately returns on racing increase, more marginal owners (and new ones) will be encouraged to (re)turn to the game, more money will be invested in racing stock and breeders will receive the signals they need to increase production.

    Increasing foal production by creating incentives will not, and in of itself, make any difference to the racing product unless there is a demand for the resulting foal. You cannot simply produce goods or incentivise their production and expect demand for the product to miraculously proceed.

    Independently of all this, breeders have the option to produce for the overseas market and so hedge their risk to the local market. Also independently from the above Operators could become lease holders of racing stock which would aid breeders in hedging part of their risk. That, however, is a different discussion for another time.

    Good night!

  23. PL.NEL says:

    A watered down version has less punter appeal.
    Trying to host 8 or 9 races on daily meetings with small fields will hammer Tote exotics, let go rather a race or meeting and have fuller fields. Most courses are over raced, resulting in questionable underfoot conditions breaking horses down and costing owners and public unfairly. Never understood why Greyville grass has to be raced so heavily in July time that by the time the big race is run one can count the blades on 1 hand.
    We have to except that which did not work last year will not work now. The old brigade need to move on.
    The business model is outdated and impractical. A quick survey will reveal a disconnection at every level. Jockeys are interviewed as trainers, handicappers are trainers, jeez even the clerk of scales is now a trainer… point being that lines are blurred and professionalism needs a shakeup, plus racings policeman the stipes need a proper kick start.

  24. George Croucher says:

    Had you seen the turf track on July last year you would have to agree that it was anything but ‘hammered’ as you would have us believe, and whilst the new programe may not represent racing in all her glory we are in the middle of a crisis the mere fact that we are racing is miraculous and whilst it clearly does not meet your standards it is cerainly welcomed by every owner trainer groom jockey and most importantly horse in the country, some folk are not happy unless they are unhappy and to actually take the time to try highlight negative points on the very day racing resumes i find very very sad….

  25. donald bradshaw says:

    Hi Graham , everything flows from bringing an excellent , well managed product to the market and this can only be achieved by knowing your customer !

    Unfortunately , the industry has lost touch with an in fact ignores the customer and has become ” top heavy ” and needs to be restructured to serve the customer and once this is achieved the entire value chain from breeders until the race horse retires will flourish.

    Let me offer a suggestion so that I am not thought of as just being critical with no solutions to offer :

    The Jockey Club now the N.H.R.A. is an archaic institution and has outlived its sell by date. Horse racing should be devolved into four racing jurisdictions , Western Cape , Eastern Cape , Gauteng and K.Z.N.

    Breeders , owners , jockeys , trainers and all licensed officials in those jurisdictions will be registered with their jurisdiction.

    Every jurisdiction will have their own chief stipe plus three stipes , one trainee / assistant stipe and admin support to control the policing / licencing / inspections of horse racing in their jurisdiction and report to the C.E.O. of their relevant jurisdiction.

    Off course I have only outlined the skeleton of the proposal as this platform will not allow for the ” nuts & bolts ” to be fully described here except to maybe say that the only centralized operations in the industry should be the National Totes ( here I propose awarding a tender for two totes to operate nationally as competition is urgently required in this sphere ) in all jurisdictions and what is now known as Tellytrack that will be owned by the jurisdictions and offer the S.A. horse racing product to your customers !

  26. Wayne Fouche says:

    I agree with PL. Nel. Fields of 5 to 10 horses hold no appeal for a punter and after more than 50 years I will no doubt say good buy to punting along with many others. OK Peter we will sit and discuss this over a glass of something or other once all this Covid nonsense is over. They can continue racing on Greyville Poly with a max of 12 or Cape Town midweek with fields akin to some of the overseas rubbish (2 or 3 horses) they dish up.

  27. PL.NEL says:

    Look forward to it good man,, racing the cold one and Wayne’s can’t loose tipping

Leave a Comment

‹ Previous

The Friday Racing Menu

Next ›

Grass Gallops (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Vee Moodley Speaks

Popular Posts