Bortz -‘Horse Population Remains A Challenge’

Cape boss urges that we not get stuck in the past

“Rome wasn’t built in a day and the rebuilding of Cape horseracing is an investment in the long-term health of the sport. This isn’t a one day game – we are on the pitch for the long run!”

Talking to the Sporting Post on Saturday evening as he prepared to board a flight to Melbourne for the Asian Racing Conference, the charismatic Kenilworth Racing Executive Chairman Greg Bortz was responding to social media posters after comments were made about the seven race card that was hosted at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Saturday.

Greg Bortz (Pic - Troy Finch)

Greg Bortz – plans aplenty and innovating (Pic – Troy Finch)

“We are cutting our cloth to suit the racing population – we have two choices, really. If we don’t have enough horses entered we can cancel racing, or innovate and make it work. Maybe a full card with small numbers, or, as we did here today, a decent seven-race programme and at least we are racing. We have been hurt by other regions’ cancelled meetings and we don’t want to take the apparently easy way out and cancel. That way South African racing also gets hurt and nobody benefits. And remember the most profitable days are when one doesn’t host the show. We have to think out of the box for the collective good. It’s that simple.”

With nett pools including R899 804 (Pick 6), R357 674 (PA) and R213 539 (Bipot), dividends were healthy on Saturday with the Pick 6 delivering over R148 000, the PA R3 256, the Bipot R8 454, and the two jackpots R5 054 and R9 700, respectively.

Bortz, a revelation for us in the media who are used to racing administrators shying away from transparency and never commiting or saying anything of substance, confirmed that Cape Racing was ‘picking their shots’.

“Let’s not forget – the Cape had the lowest horse population in the country at one time. We have had some terrific racing and a fair amount of it. We have increased our racemeetings too. Derby day is coming up in a fortnight and some of the raiders have returned home, while some trainers are holding back to race on the big day. These are all practical realities. But we have plans and we are not sitting still.”

He added that  the public at large had to be aware of the reality that the knock-on effect of the decrease and slide in the South African horse population would get worse before things improved.

in Extreme

“The foaling numbers suggest it’s going to worsen before things improve. We are fortunate here in the Cape as we have a large 2yo population and we have worked on providing a juvenile racing programme that provides a genuine incentive to race. And that is the key to turning the whole show around – we have to show good tangible cause and reason for breeders to breed more horses, and for owners to buy more horses.”

He implored observers that ‘liked to bang the drum while perhaps not being fully informed’, to rather reflect on the body of work over the past six months and not seek to undermine these achievements because a seven-race programme is carded.

“And please allow me to make it clear – there will be more seven race programmes in the months and years ahead! There is nothing wrong with a seven event card in the circumstances. We cannot be stuck in the past. Racing has been dying! We are seeking to resurrect it, and are aware that we need to be innovative and creative, and play the cards that we have been dealt.”

The 39th Asian Racing Conference will be held in Melbourne from Tuesday 14 February to Friday 17 February.

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