Hollywoodbets recently announced a groundbreaking initiative by way of a cash incentive of R1 million for the first rider to surpass the longstanding Anthony Delpech benchmark of 334 winners in the forthcoming local racing season, which commenced on 1 August 2023.
The 334 winner mark was established by former multiple national champion Anthony Delpech, when he shattered Piere Strydom’s record in the 1998/1999 season.
In a letter to the Sporting Post Mailbag, well-known racing personality Robert Bloomberg, pictured above, suggests that Anthony Delpech finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place in that his employers Hollywood have in laudatory fashion “dangled a carrot” of R1 million if any rider can top his praiseworthy record of 334 winner attained in the 1998/99 racing fashion and which by association he must promote.
I say that because in his heart of hearts he must know full well that this milestone is well-nigh impossible to achieve in this day and age.
We need to compare apples with apples here. When Delpech attained his record, we had 488 meetings (which included 52 Zimbabwe meetings in our stats). His total equated to 0,684 winners per meeting (“wpm”). He had 1,672 rides at a win strike rate of 20%.
Last season Keagan De Melo had 277 winners from 1434 mounts at a win average of 19.3% and 0,758 wpm. Importantly, and significantly, there were only 365 meetings. Delpech therefore benefited to the tune of 123 more meetings and 238 more rides. Based on 488 meetings, De Melo would have ridden around 370 winners, 36 more than Delpech.
Richard Fourie had 258 winners from 1170 rides at a win average of 22.1% and 0,706 wpm. He had 264 less rides than De Melo and 502 less than Delpech. Had he also benefited from 488 meetings, he would have ridden around 345 winners, 11 more than Delpech.
This season, meetings have been further reduced to 350.
So, De Melo fell short of Delpech’s record by 57 winners and Fourie by 76 and they now have 15 less meetings in order to surpass the record!
Fourie would have to ride virtually a winner a meeting and that’s riding at all 350 meetings! This is of course without taking the possibility of injuries and suspensions into account or the abandonment of meetings which cancellations were more readily replaced in those days.
To put 138 less meetings into perspective, that’s a drop of 28.3%!
The equivalent of 334 winners from 488 meetings would today be 240 winners from 350 meetings so nobody will get remotely close to the magic number of 335, hence my statement that Hollywood’s money is very safe.
‘Perhaps consideration should be given to reducing the mark for the “pot o’ gold” to 300 winners. I doubt very much that even that mark will be breached, but at least there would be considerably more interest,’ concluded Bloomberg.
Responding to Mr Bloomberg’s letter, Hollywoodbets’ Dermot O’Connell confirmed that the R1 million incentive is a gesture of acknowledging the superb record set by Anthony Delpech, while at the same instance maintaining public interest and providing every local jockey with a dream goal to aim at.
He added that Winning Form, Sporting Post and SplashOut sponsored riders are incentivized per winner and also via progressive bonuses for specified winner intervals, as well as being paid a substantial cash bonus for winning the national championship. Therefore, there is great value in attempting the record, regardless!
“We note Mr Bloomberg’s comments, but it is a reality that Anthony Delpech was never given any form of external incentive to achieve his benchmark when he did. And while the racing programme may well look very different today as to what it did 25 years ago, Anthony Delpech also did not ride at Kimberley or in Zimbabwe, which both counted towards the statistics at the time. Either way, there is still great value in attempting it,” he suggested.
While it is early days and some jockeys have been on holiday after a long 2022/23 season, Muzi Yeni and Gavin Lerena are tied at 8 winners each at the top of the national log after the weekend.
Philasande Mxoli is second with 7 winners, and an eyecatching 33% win strike-rate, while Sean Veale rounds the leading quartet off with 6 winners.
Maybe Mr Bloomberg will consider running a parallel incentive with a reduced target to add to the interest!