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Speak Up Speak Out

How did they give Nico the boot?

I can’t profess to know a great deal about the Phumelela affair – except to say its been a giant dog’s breakfast which has culminated with the corporate being consigned to Business Rescue and the involvement of racing icon, Mary Slack – and a very much appreciated intervention too.

Now I shall be generous to those in charge of whats going on now – but I guess like in all distressed company circumstances the accountants have gotten involved – just the very last people who should be. In my view, accountants are completely useless in the role of rescuing anything – in fact in my forty years of experience as a company director and Chairman, I wouldn’t pay them with washers. I hold them in contempt – just behind lawyers in general and divorce lawyers in particular!

Nico Kritsiotis

Nico Kritsiotis

C John Smith writes in the Sporting Post Mailbag that he is guessing it would be the accountants who decided that the commentator panel should be rationalised – a decision of dubious validity in the first place – every race needs a commentator so if someone is rationalised, somebody else will get the extra work and the extra pay! Nonsense.

Now for the daftest bit.

It seems Nico Kritsiotis has become the fall guy. Are they completely barking mad?

I don’t know any of the South African commentators personally but have heard them all, often. Now I am sure they are all perfectly nice and good guys – but my assessment of their commentating ability is that at best, most are moderate and at worst many are completely hopeless – except Kristiosis.

Let me make it very clear – Nico Kritsiotis is a world class commentator and for me is the voice of SA racing.

Here’s why.

He knows a great deal about horseracing, trainers, jockeys, breeding, rules – indeed the whole shooting match and can speak with complete authority on many topics

His voice is clear and crisp at all times – just the best.

He paces his voice to the race perfectly

He covers the race, pace, structure and participants to a high state of excellence and accuracy

He has the unique ability and perception to pick up those horses which are going to feature in the finish long before it becomes evident to mere mortals like us.

Finally he never uses naff phrases such as are common in many commentaries you hear – especially in America where this function is an embarassment.

I would be highly surprised if any regular supporter of racing would disagree with me – and if they do, they are wrong!

When these Business Rescue cl*wns sort things out, I would strongly suggest that those who eventually take over Phumelela make a list of phone calls to make – and high on that list should be a call to Nico Kritsiotis – apologise and humbly beg him to return to where he belongs – to the asset register of South African racing.

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34 comments on “Speak Up Speak Out

  1. Brett Pepper says:

    Sad day for South African racing when the best race caller by a country mile leaves. Reading the above article tells me exactly what a sorry state the industry is in.

  2. Tony Ridgway says:

    You can’t even spell your hero’s name right. It’s time for new blood anyway. And currently the best race caller (by many lengths) is the much younger Alistair Cohen. He should be the bar level to which the other callers aspire. Cohen is quick, accurate, sensible and has a good vocabulary, which most of the others don’t have. Most of the others speak in clichés and too many of them are beyond boring, repetitive and uninspiring. There are just a few exceptions, but time will tell if they crack it in the long run.
    We love racing. Racing needs characters, the astute, the erudite, not just people who “show up” or those more interested in gambling and making allegiances to hotheads and monopolists and… gangsters. The Sport of Kings was always thus called because of standards. Today racing is sub-standard. In order to survive and thrive, we need crusaders, pioneers and peeps with the right stuff, not hollow men with headpieces filled with straw. Let’s not go out with a whimper. That would be a tragic end to a South African something of worth with a grand old legacy.

    1. Editor says:

      Tony, the writer did correct his spelling of Kritsiotis

  3. Marlon Sing says:

    These clowns are,from a very long time getting rid of good people in the game,1st Shaheen Shaw now Nico,I personally gamble alot and quite honestly I wait to hear Nico and Brandon working together,they are truly honest good gentlemen of this game and right until the last minute of a race give the punters a honest guide,Just imagine if Shaheen,Brandon,Julie and Nico work together for 1 month throughout the country I will gaurantee you pools will increase by atleast 75% than what it currently is,these 4 people mentioned are the face of the game,as for the rest of the team they just there for rolling the days along nothing interesting related to horses comes off them….they just there to earn there salary and go home with absolutely no interest to the punters.

  4. Lazarus says:

    I think it’s really a sad day to see a man with so much passion for the sport and the industry gets so quickly put out in the cold, am huge fan of clocking the gallop and I hope to see nico continue with such a marvelous initiative, thank you Nico for your contribution to the wonderful sport of horse racing , especially horse racing south Africa🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  5. david mollett says:

    In Caesar’s time there was only one Brutus, in SA racing there are many.
    I believe the decision to let Nico go came not from accountants but from those at the helm in Rivonia – he has never made any secret that he was far from one of the favourites of the top brass.
    Can Tony Ridgway name the last time Nico called a race wrong? I can’t. In fact, both he and Ali Cohen both put their opinions on the line when horses reach the finishing line.
    This is in strict contrast to the UK where – in a case with a horse clearly a neck in front – the racecaller will say “we’ll leave that to the judge.”
    Like myself, Nico has put in 20 years service to Phumelela.
    However, he’s actually in a good space as – being under 50 – he should immediately send his CV to Hong Kong and Dubai.

  6. Johan says:

    Wat het die spelling van n persoon se naam enige iets uit te waai met n mens se opinie?
    Omtrent die selfde argument as wanneer sekere mense “rassisme” skree as hulle besig is om n argument verloor.
    Elke persoon het n opinie en is geregtig op n opinie, wie is jy om joune op n ander af te dwing om n dom stelling te maak soos jy spel verkeerd.
    Ons skryf immers hier op sosiale media en skryf jou boodskap hoofsaaklik van jou selfoon af, en jou sekretaresse is nie hier om jou boodskap te edit nie… gewoonlik mense alwat ander se spelling kritiseer lees hulle eie 10 keer oor om seker te maak hulself het nie verkeerd gespel nie…
    Swak argument, swak!..
    En ja, ek het hierdie aspris in afrikaans geskryf om jou af te piepie.
    NikoK jou yster!

  7. Adams says:

    For years race commentators left and new and young ones came on board. Taught by the best and to sit in on most of these commentaries and watch and learn by the best in the business and quite gifted. Allister was under the wings of Clyde who showed him the ropes. Now Ruvouen Smith can move to the highveld and Shaheen Shaw and give them the opportunity to make a come back. I am almost 50 and would love to take a crack at it too, but is the opportunity there for me, thats what i ask myself or will be short lived too. Many on course presenters,that I found, likes to miss lead punters and sent them on a wild goose chase on race days and previews.

    1. Editor says:

      Plse add your name / surname

  8. Ross says:

    This decision is yet another nail in the coffin of South African horse racing.

    The industry needs to workout how to fund itself. In every other jurisdiction in the world, it’s self funded through gambling.

    Any turnaround is going to involve improving the product for punters and increasing turnover, not eroding it further. Phumelela are not going to get out of the quagmire of falling revenues by closing courses, cutting stakes and sacking their best commentators.

    A bad situation becomes worse. Sad day.

    1. Editor says:

      Plse add your name / surname

  9. Sydney Lenders says:

    “Speaketh the truth and yee shall be nailed”..Nico is one of the best commentators ever and so was Revaughn.. Cohen can’t touch them…..

  10. bob kistnasamy says:

    The Aussies are firmly entrenched and monopolizing in Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore.
    Zim racing is in the doldrums and I am not sure if they planning a Zimbabwe clean out.
    Nico would do well in the industry in other forms and it will not be long when the bloodstock authorities include them in their ranks.
    Watch this space.

  11. Miller says:

    Very sad indeed

  12. jc lee ching says:

    Mr. Molly you are spot on Brutus or Brutii is lurking in the wings. Well said Johan, don’t attack a man for a simple spelling mistake, it shows poor character. I agree with all who support Nico, met him once in PE, what a down to earth human being.

  13. Tjaart Venter says:

    To Toni
    Why make things personal when you comment on an article. This is the writers opinion and should be respected when criticizing or agreeing .Dave,fully agree with your statement and I will miss Nico as he definitely have a passion for our industry. No wonder that Phumelela is in the condition it is. Getting rid of the real professionals.
    Anyway ,wish Nico the best for his future and I am sure he will be successful.

  14. Sherwin Naidoo says:

    Firstly I am not the biggest fan of Nico. I feel he often gives extra attention to certain jockeys, trainers and owners in his calling.
    However, I agree with the author ‘s sentiments about the decision not to retain his services.
    Commentating is a specialized skill and skills retention should an important consideration in any act of restructuring.
    Get rid of the on course presenters who add no value in my opinion. Leave comments to the in studio presenter, who currently has limited duties, most of which entails reading from a Free Tabsheet or other publication. This person can view the feed from all centers and talk us through the parade ring, canter past, behind the gates etc. Place all post race interviews on hold, will fit in nicely with social distancing protocols.
    Employ some of these on course presenters as analysts who make information available on websites, newspapers, social media etc.
    Heres an idea for the BRP, conduct an experiment of removing on course presenters for a week and see if this has any effect on the pools as compared to when they are on course.

  15. Savas Pastellides says:

    All these guys that have lost there jobs had so much to say about me when I wrote about Betting World and Phumelela and about Larry (CEO) they all had to say something about me ,well every dog gets his day karma is a bitch, the hole industry needs to be cleaned up and start again with new people and get rid of all the bad eggs there we need to stop theses ass creepers that only praise top trainers and jockeys every one in the industry needs to be promoted .

  16. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey….
    I really think it’s unfair that Alistor Cohen is getting lambasted for nothing his done…I personally feel apart from Nico that Alistor Cohen and Sheldon Peters could hold their own anywhere in the world as commentators…Alistor for me has the upper hand as a all rounder,, I feel they need a apology…Unfortunately it is what is and one can only feel for Nico,, he was certainly huge player in the industry,,another one that I feel should have taken over Tellytrack along with Dominic Zaki,,As far as I’m concerned Dean Sawarjith with no disrespect to the man has not business at Tellytrack..Another Captain that should get his marching orders is Patrick Davis,, the man who is meant to be running SA horseracing,, how on earth can we have someone that is controlling SA horseracing living 60% of the time in the UK….No No No that’s not on…..Any idea when Computaform will be back on shelves ??????????? will we be lucky enough to have them on shelves before 2021????????

  17. donald bradshaw says:

    Gold Circle , here is your opportunity to secure the services of an experienced , professional and very competent race caller ?

    No semantics in his clear and entertaining calling of a race !

    Let him have his break but in the meantime give him a call , you do not want to miss out on the ” own goal ” scored by P.L.G. ?

  18. PL.NEL says:

    So to those who are trimming our margins ,,, WHAT is the new call or where is it ,,, your mute big bang actions don’t tell us anything but to fear you and your next decision,, Achtung.

  19. Harold Narainsamy says:

    Nico is one of the best commentators we have had. I would love it if Gold Circle could hire him. He and Craig Peters would make a good team.

  20. kenn masilela says:

    If I want to take a P3 or a double with the tote I have to take it more than once but can I take my doubles and Pick 3s with the bookies once if I want to. So why should i support the Tote?

  21. Robert says:

    I totally agree with David Mollett in everything he says.
    Nico Kritsiotis is easily my favourite commentator, followed by Sheldon Peters. Ally Cohen is excellent as well, but his style and voice do not create the excitement and hype during the race that Nico does.
    I remember being at Turffontein a few years ago, together with a visitor from Australia, and the moment Nico started calling, he was blown away!! That’s what attracts people to the course!
    Molly had the same effect and charisma as an analyst, and to think that both he and Nico have been treated so poorly after 20 years service is ridiculous!
    I’ll never forget the day decades ago, that I was fortunate enough to meet David Mollett at Greyville on July day, absolute legend!
    Molly you must be over the moon now that Leeds United are back in the Premier League! Take care, hope you are keeping well.

  22. Dylan says:

    I personally love Niko’s commentating and I think although it seems bleek now, this may be a blessing for him as he can now try and use his skills world wide. He is really good and I’m sure will be snapped up. There are also not many as knowledgeable as he is with regards to racing. You can let go of Shaheen, Niko and the likes… makes no sense!

    Good luck Niko, you’ll be missed in SA.

  23. Mel Mienie says:

    Nico you are World Class – great loss for the industry. Spead your wings, you will be missed.

  24. donald bradshaw says:

    Its not often I agree TOTALLY with Frankie but Alistair Cohen is the best in the business , Tellytrack is providing a shocking service in respect of S.A. horse racing and nobody seems to know how to fix that problem , Patrick Davis , I do not know much about maybe for the reasons outlined by Frankie and when I walk into my local tote or C.N.A. and ask for Computaform I get told ” not available yet ” and so walk out , another customer lost to the industry !

    Robert , yes us LONG SUFFERING Leeds United fans are pleased to be back and now we have to see how we get on in the premier league after so many years of battling away in what I still call the 2nd division. A top ten finish would be very good in my book but that is going to be very difficult ?

  25. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…
    Donald it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to agree with me on this one,, but thank you anyway my Buddy..Does the name John Stuart ring a bell ? anyway Patrick was 2nd in charge when JS was around,,now that JS is out the position was given to Patrick Davis,,but the sad but real sad part is that the man is hardly in South Africa 🙈😂

  26. INNOCENT says:

    Bring Nico kritsiotis Back we need him racing need him , you took Schoeman away from us now you want to take Nico never …..I’m done with horse racing if Nico doesn’t come back

  27. Prakash Singh says:

    Prakash Singh

  28. Prakash Singh says:

    Nico Kritsiotis. Wonderful gentleman and world class race caller. Pronunciation and accuracy the best. In response to the comments please note that Nico Kritsiotis was never a full time race commentator but in a position of : Manager Promotions and Customer Relations at Betting World.

  29. david mollett says:

    Thank-you Robert for those kind words. Yes, OK at present but one of my close friends is down with the virus.
    I am sad not to be doing UK racing as there were evenings when – thanks to Shaheen Shaw’s exuberance – we got pools over R100K. Not any more.
    Another point about Nico is the sterling work he did keeping Betting World customers happy. He had to deal with betting disputes on a daily basis.
    York coming up and Enable’s last appearance in the UK. I doubt she will clash with Love till the Arc where French horse, Sostaas, will be a serious player.
    Possibly Yorkshire-trained Art Power – improving with every run – will give Battaash a go in the Nunthorpe.

  30. Shaheen says:

    Thank you for always giving me a mention, Dave. You never shirked from calling a spade a spade. All the best to you and family, sunshine. x.

  31. Tjaart Venter says:

    Now this is what I miss the most. The to and fro from Dave and Shaheen and some other presenters/commentators. Always keeping the mood light and the advice were real. Many a times , I would tune in and have a bet just to experience that. I am afraid that it will now just be somber moods and no fun. Also, Nico will be missed as he was a true professional that were also known to engage in some banter. Good luck to you all and please stay engaged in some form or other -even just to comment on articles etc.

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