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Flamingo Park – Time To Say Goodbye?

Exodus of trainers likely as reality hits hard

Flamingo Park trainers may be forced to consider relocating to other racing jurisdictions, with the future of Northern Cape racing looking bleak in the light of the desperate economic and restrictive lockdown conditions.

While some may have thought he was heading straight into the lion’s den at the time, dual Northern Cape Champion Corrie Lensley took the plunge and boldly relocated to Milnerton three months ago – and it is now believed that others may be following suit in various directions.

A longstanding local resident trainer and a former champion in the region approached the Sporting Post to try and ascertain when and what the prospects were of racing resuming racing there.

Phumelela Racing Executive Patrick Davis explained that there is a sponsorship agreement in place between Phumelela and Gold Circle to keep Flamingo Park going until the end of this year.

“Gold Circle has advised the Kimberley stakeholders that the agreement will not be extended beyond this, with the likely outcome that it will be closed as a racecourse and training centre at that stage,” he confirmed.

He added that, given the current government lockdown measures, it’s unclear when racing might be permitted to resume in Kimberley – considering the likely ongoing restrictions on interprovincial travel, potentially even under level 3 protocols.

Patrick Davis (pic: hamishNIVENPhotography)

“So I’m afraid the situation remains extremely uncertain at this stage and it begs the question as to whether a decision needs to be made to close the venue now instead of waiting until the end of the year. This is a decision that needs to be made by the Phumelela Business Rescue Practitioner.”

Mr Davis concluded that if this decision was to be made, the industry would obviously look to find ways to support the relocation of trainers, grooms and horses to other racing regions.

He also cited the example of Corrie Lensley’s move to the Western Cape and said that they were aware that ‘a number of others have also made application to relocate their operations’.

After a multimillion rand refurbishment of the racing surface and the construction of 140 stables in 2005, the Kimberley Racecourse was renamed Flamingo Park.

The track, the only sand racing surface in South Africa and a kind one to horses, has been a Monday afternoon institution for generations of punters.

It has provided around 36 racemeetings annually, but was reported to be losing R23,5 million a year and had the lowest TAB turnover in the country.

Trainer Cliffie Miller, who is in his 43rd year in Kimberley, pleaded recently that the course’s importance to the racing industry should not be measured purely in terms of betting turnover and rather seen as a vital performance platform in the overall economy of SA racing.

It’s a sign of the times and if Flamingo Park goes we have seven racecourses left.

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18 comments on “Flamingo Park – Time To Say Goodbye?

  1. Lindelani Brian Msomi says:

    Its a sad day for SA racing,more for Northen Cape people ,trainers and punters and general SA horse players.Is really no way to save this track?We need dirt /sand racing in the country so as to accomodate all types of horses to suit varoous trainers and horses.I really feel bad for both the trainers and grooms.zTrainers must please move to new centres with their grooms to save their jobs.Thank you.

  2. Charl says:

    Great track, nothing wrong with the track. Kimberley is the Capital of Northern Cape.
    Sand is soft on the horses and horse injuries is lower compared to grass. Also a second life to manny horses.
    Problem is the marketing to get revenue, I would suggest venture playing points with each lotto point and establish Horse lotto tickets (6 race lotto) and Horse lotto quickpick.

    Overseas goverments build tracks from revenue and some towns even have 7 tracks. So manny jobs in each and every track.

    I do believe it will not be the end of Kimberley, not yet, only when the world ends and the world is not ending.

  3. Calvin Naidoo says:

    The Kimberly track has been noted for giving a new lease of life to many of the horses that couldn’t be competitive in the other major centers. So a new lease of life is better than no life at all. What will happen to horses that don’t have the ability to perform on the race track in the future? If you shut Flamingo Park down, then you’re cutting off that second lease of life.

    How will SA Racing deal with this problem? It’s totally unfair on the horse’s part. These horses come from all parts of the country, so its definitely going to be an ongoing problem, unless, by some stroke of genius luck, the breeders are only going to breed above average horses, which is………And where do breeders fit in this? They are the ones breeding these animals, and are gaining from it, so why can’t they contribute to keep this track running?

    Think People, Please put your Egos aside, and don’t just look at figures and feel that you have found solutions for all problems by making shallow decisions. We also need to get the Horse Care units involved in such decisions. Things will have to change for the future survival of all horses and horse racing.

    Think about the horse for once. After all it is a Horse Racing Industry, which supposed to put the horse’s welfare first, not the concern of money.

    I’m not a Flamingo Park punter, BUT I LOVE HORSES.Z

  4. bob kistnasamy says:

    Flamingo Park was never given a chance to survive. The Monday race day fixture allocation ensured it’s doom and gloom. A further nail in the coffin was the month end Mondays or first Monday in the month being allocated to Fairview.
    This unfair allocation and poor marketing of Flamingo Park definitely contributed to poor revenues and losses to the racing centre.
    Pity about the terrible management of the South African horseracing industry on the part of the authorities. Surely the industry is in a state of collapse.
    Coronavirus has taken us back to the glory days when racing was at it’s very best and race courses were well attended by the many thousands of supporters and punters. We have witnessed the closure of 5 racecourses and everything that could possibly go wrong. Indications are that the racing and business models worked well then. Suppose these days we have too many authorities and bodies controlling horse racing.
    Where did it all go wrong.

  5. Gman says:

    Agree with Bob
    I live in PE, but lets run turffontein/Kenilworth Mondays only.Lets do Kimberley and Fairview Saterday and Sundays when 90% of punters have free time to place bets etc.
    Fairview and Flamingo is known as centers that dont make money but give them the weekend slots that Jhb/Cpt/Kzn enjoy for six months and we will see where the problem is.

  6. Dave Other says:

    A good objective summation, thanks Bob – perhaps having hit rock bottom, SA racing has a chance to “get back on the right track” (not so many tracks left 🙂

  7. Steve leahy says:

    Would this then not be the ideal time to reintroduce the sand track at the Vaal?? It was closed at the blink of an eye, lets do the same with the opening!!

  8. hilton witz says:

    How could you close down racing in bloemfontein and try grow racing in kimberly maybe go back in time to the heights of marcus jooste and peter miller and you will get your answer…Bloem racing was hugely popular with all punters whether they raced on a monday or thursday and the pools were bigger 20 years ago than they are for kimberly racing today..bloem was well supported by trainers from gauteng port elizabeth and natal and was also run on the same surface so trainers and punters knew they wouldnt have the big probem of if they would take to the surface or the kickback….Being a city and being so central it was easily accessible unlike kimberly …. But this is what happens when cowards keep quiet and bow down to dictators …

  9. If they reintroduce the couplings you will see more people playing the exotics and thus a bigger tunover . Even I will play at flamingo park if couplings are allowed in P6. trainer will have no reason to win with non Favotite which is happening all too often nowadays.

  10. It went wrong when they appointed a CEO and listed on the JSE. Profits first for the elite. crumbs for the punter and thus less punters therefore les for elite and this gives available money for punters less.The bookies also have too much say in what competition to them is allowed.

  11. bob kistnasamy says:

    Totally agree with Steve. We definitely need a sand track. We had excellent “sand horses” which were not so successful on grass tracks. Perhaps one of the reasons for Louis Goosen moving his horses to KZN is due to the absence of sand tracks in Gauteng. Most of his horses perform quite well at the poly track. Poly or sand tracks provide the trainers with opportunities to find the surface that best suits their horses.
    Overseas tracks accommodate both grass and sand/dirt tracks.
    I am not sure of who is going to rescue horseracing as a sport. The controlling bodies are far more interested in business rescue thinking. Is there any one who can rescue horse racing from the throes of demise?
    Please put up your hands!!!!

  12. Rudi says:

    And now what will happen to those horses . Now nobody complain if they have to be put down. They cant compete in bigger provinces.

  13. Johan says:

    I have been a punter for many years since Sea Cottage days and I agree bring couplings back in races as a trainer have as much as 5 horses in a race and one is favorite he wins with a rank outsider of his flock unfair to punters and. I agree open vaal race course and punters will be happy now that the Joostes are gone maybe the De Kocks can improve racing again good luck

  14. Oscar says:

    It is just a matter.of time until MOD
    STEPS IN.
    The problem will then disappear.

  15. Vincent Bell says:

    Hi all, sorry to say I did not read all the comments here, I just get so mad when other people suffer because of bad management and wanted to just make my comment and leave. This article makes me agree.

    Why does the people that run racing just move along to other employment.

    The first thing I would do if I was in charge is run 3 race meeting everyday. One day, one midday and one night. Every track would have to stage at least 2 night meeting a month and every track had to make sure they carded 8 race with no less that 81 ranner carded and have at least on reserve runner per race carded.

    This will increase punters choice and gives every person working different shift the opportunity to place a bet on the day. This is being done in other part of the world with so much success.

    The broadcasting of our racing product will increase in quality and will be in high demand from other racing regions.

    Come on people, there is so much more that can be done than closing a race track. Just think how racing centre’s like Fairview and Kimberly could flourish under these kind of conditions. The possibilities is endless.

    Anyway, that’s my opinion.

    Have a good day.

  16. Shanil says:

    Good riddance to a track that although kind to horses was unkind to punters. Form book is out the window when it comes to results and no enquiries that required serious questions. Of course it’s Kimberly and punters should expect this. Gulfstream has a sand track too and the results are punter friendly . Pools are favourable only where punters trust form. A Fairview meeting on a Monday sees higher pools. No local racing has opened the opportunity to see how much more punter friendly racing happens internationally than home. Other provinces should stage lower merit ratings races to allow sub standard horses to perform. If racing contantly allows 1 person to win big and 99% of punters to lose daily like the pick 6 the sport will die. We need to at least win 20% back to compete with casinos.

  17. Eric Fordred says:

    Charl you are spot on why not a lotto type bet for racing how difficult would it be to establish a similar type of bet for horseracing?

  18. Wendy ross adams says:

    I am sure its going to be all right things
    will start to happen shortly

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