Safi & Winning Ways – Divan Moller Responds

'My interest lies in what is best for racing'

My name is Divan Möller.  I recently received some unexpected airtime on James Goodman’s Winning Ways show courtesy of Mr David Safi of Formgrids fame.

While Mr Safi certainly has an interesting story to tell, it is clear that his is a long-standing and deep-seated grievance.

Good journalism ought to be about facts and presenting a full and balanced picture.  Sadly, I do not feel that was achieved in this case.

Mr Goodman conducted these interviews without inviting any of the parties mentioned for their input.  In fact, my name was not even pronounced correctly.

Be that as it may, there are many sides to a story and as the saying goes, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

Mr Safi has had the opportunity to present his version of the story.  As I was not afforded the courtesy, I have decided to set out my version of events here.

Please note:  This response is my own and I represent no one else.

About me

I am a software developer and have worked mainly in the gaming and fintech industry.

I have had a few racing side-projects at times and my interest in racing runs deep into the study of pedigrees and the history of the sport. I have followed racing since my childhood (a product of racing in the family, probably to their dismay). I have had the ups and downs of a small-time owner and relinquished my colours a few years ago. I have never earned an income from racing directly and never sought to do so either.

Some key statements I would like to make at the outset:

  1. I have no affiliation in any way with PGL, the RA, Gold Circle, NRB or any other racing body.
  2. I have never quoted, invoiced, or received payment from any party named in point 1.
  3. I have not entered into any agreements or legal contracts with any of the parties named in point 1, except for a non-disclosure and data agreement with the NRB associated with their data feed.
  4. I have no personal or business relationship with Mr Rob Scott, Larry Wainstein or anyone currently or formerly employed by an operator or owner representative body, nor have I ever received any funding from any such person in their professional or personal capacity
  5. I have met with Messrs Scott and Wainstein (January 2017) and was asked what it would cost to build an integrated form system (not the purpose of the meeting), as it was well within their rights to do. I offered my opinion during this discussion. No agreements or future work stemmed from this meeting.
  6. I was not privy to any information regarding dealings between Mr Safi or any other parties mentioned.

I feel the best way to document my limited involvement in this story is by way of a timeline and in places I will digress into some (probably unnecessary) detail:


At this point in time, I was very happily employed and spotted an issue with an early version of Formgrids.  Mr Safi’s number was on the site and I rang him directly to convey my findings.  I would like to state that I have never had occasion to speak to Mr Safi’s developer, “Wolfgang” and have never had any interest in completing any form of skills assessment mentioned.


As a racing and pedigree enthusiast, I found it difficult to find any resource sufficiently comprehensive to meet my needs.  So, I decided to make my own and started building a database of South African thoroughbreds and race form in my spare time.  I realised a need for racing results as they happen (as an employee you cannot open racing result sites at work as they are usually betting related, plus they are all a difficult to navigate on mobile). I decided to build an engine that posted results and breeding details of winners onto Twitter as race results became available under @RacingFormZA.

It was developed for my personal use but soon grew and anyone in racing who used social media followed it.  The increased subscribers created an additional workload that I did not really have the time or appetite for.  In 2018 I went so far as to try and find a sponsor for it, but was unsuccessful and in the end, I chose to shut it down instead.

As the database grew and became more polished over the years, I came to the realisation that building a form site would not be too difficult.

I built a proof of concept and an extremely basic “nag me” reminder tool, again designed for my personal use as I started owning shares in a few runners during this time. Racing does a poor job of notifying owners when you have horses nominated or when they accept to run and frustrated with the lack of available information, I remedied that – at least for myself.


Reference is made to my CTS connection in the interview.  There is nothing sinister in this association.

Through exposure from the Twitter feed I had met with CTS. I assisted CTS in building an improved website and simplifying the sales day task of capturing results. The CTS site that is live today is the site I built and if you have attended a sale and seen the main displays and dashboards you have seen some of my work. I feel it was a positive working relationship in the tense environment a sale can be and enjoyed the period spanning multiple years assisting them in my spare time.


During this period, I actively engaged with the NHA to drive for improvements in racing for all stakeholders. I did so in my private capacity as an owner, without any financial angle or benefit. I travelled to meetings at my own cost and each time there was a changing of the guard I would have to start over. The experience left me disillusioned and I realised meaningful change would have to happen outside of official frameworks and then possibly be adopted once shown to work. This planted seeds for what would lead to the creation of Racebook.

As proof, links to some of my work:

  • NHA Improvements, which summarises a larger body of work (Racebook is mentioned right at the end) – NHA improvements Link
  • Email to former NHA CEO who was open to exploring the ideas, in this case improving the change of ownership process specifically (we had met on multiple occasions) – COO Email Link

I mention this to show that my interest lies in what is best for racing, for it to be an efficient, professional operation. I have no interest in being employed by racing.


The interview mentions the late Mr Rob Faux, which I am also happy to elaborate on.

Mr Faux owned a system he swore by as an ardent punter. It was broken and the developer could no longer maintain it.

He contacted me in May 2016 (there are very few developers who understand racing), literally begging me to assist.  I declined as I felt it would be too expensive and had no real interest, the code base was old, and the data source no longer existed. Mr Faux persisted, and we had some ups and downs (persistent but also impatient was our Mr Faux) getting his system back online – but in the end we got there, he loved the word “efficacy” and in his own words he was back in action. We remained in contact until right before his passing.

January 2017

A meeting occurred between Messrs Scott, Wainstein, and me.

The meeting was initiated by me to share my ideas (the name Racebook was not even in existence yet). They shared their thoughts and some of their ideas and did ask my opinion on the cost of an integrated form system, as it is well within their rights to do.

My takeaway from the meeting was that there was budget for projects on the Tellytrack and RA front; however, I did not find suitable partners for my vision in either party. Our ideology and goals differed. I did not engage further; neither party intimated that they want to engage with me in future, no further discussion was held in this regard.

I have not spoken to or exchanged any correspondence with Mr Wainstein since that meeting. My only encounter with Mr Scott since was much later in the year as Tellytrack control the licensing of data products which is maintained by the NRB. On that note – I hold a strong opinion that data feeds should be free to any local, non-betting related products as they all can only contribute to the sport (Breeders, stallion managers, racing administration and insurance companies and the obvious uses for form analysis tools all benefit the industry with access to data).

The crux is that this meeting is seen by my antagonists as the reason for existence; source of funding and driving motivation behind Racebook. This is not true, as my opening statements clarified. If anything, this meeting made it clear in my mind that any work I do will be at arm’s length of any official racing entity.

Mid 2017

The seeds for what would become Racebook were already planted through my dealings with the NHA, but the name and core team for the project were formed during this period.  I am not naming them here as I have not asked their permission to do so. There were no links to any operator or owner representative body.  Mr Grant Knowles was mentioned in the interview, but he was never involved in the project.

The core group brought insight into the trainer-owner relationship as well as the financial and administrative aspects of racing to the table.

The vision for Racebook was not a form site whatsoever (again refer to the end of NHA improvements, scroll to the last page). Rather, we had set our sights on building a system based around owner and trainer communication that could extend into billing. It would be underpinned by document storage, voice, video, and photos and as an additional feature, have form as a small part of it.

The founding team funded this out of their own pockets with a specific vision in mind and it was developed for a fraction of figures mentioned by Mr Safi.  It was an ambitious project that in retrospect fell well short of its goals for various reasons – as lead developer I shoulder blame for most of those.

Sarahdane Stud

As with any project of this nature, Racebook requires data to function (not just racing form, but foal data, mares etc.).  It is my strong feeling that data of this nature ought to be freely available to anyone.

However, as matters stand, this is not the case and I personally did the hard yards to obtain access to data for Racebook. The same doors Mr Safi had to knock on, we had to knock on too. If doors closed for him, it was not our doing.

Late 2017

Racebook was still very much in the development phase and some way off having anything ready to offer the market.  It was during this period, that Mr Safi’s Formgrids site was hacked.

I have in my possession a message claiming that I was responsible for hacking his system and in the Winning Ways interview it is implied that the powers behind Racebook took down Formgrids in order to launch their own product.

In my view this is bordering on extremely dangerous territory which I do not take kindly to.

I work in the fintech industry and cannot and will not be associated with such activities.  I have never worn a “black hat” and I have a track record of notifying companies when I spot things that could lead to an attack or loss/breach of data.


Secondly, it was clear that Formgrids was offline.  Formgrids was and is a popular resource that the industry has come to rely on.  When it went off-line, there was no comparable South African interactive form site online available.  While I will repeat that Racebook’s core goal has never been form lines, we had something to offer at this time and decided to put out a very rough, early version of the form segment online to fill the Formgrids breach.

This created two forms of negative feedback from some corners:

  1. The clone argument
  2. Causation with the “hack”

Answering point 1:

Any racing site with form:

  • Will have similar data from a single source
  • Only so many layouts of racing data make sense to an end user (whether it be condensed or detailed race or runner profiles), the same way property or online banking or betting websites for example share many similarities even when built and run by competing entities
  • The condensed display of past runs in line with a runner to show form or previous runs has been used by newspapers before the internet was even mainstream
  • The idea of form being interactive is present on all major racing form websites, is underpinned by how hyperlinks are used to navigate the web
  • Colour scales to differentiate good from bad (or high vs low) has been with us since colour media has been around – weather reports, financial data etc.
  • Lengths Behind a “best performance” is based on time and the drag effect of weight carried over a range of distances.

This can be seen on any number of similar international sites. None of these aspects are copyright.  There is no “special” recipe that was copied.

Answering point 2

“Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X.”?

Or in this case the assumption is that Formgrids was “hacked” and Racebook launched, so Racebook hacked Formgrids to launch.  While the timeline may be tempting, the assumption is incorrect and damaging.

So what did happen to Formgrids? My opinion from a technical standpoint:

Formgrids (and this is detail any technical person can derive merely by browsing the product) was built using a framework called ASP.NET Webforms, it is quite old in the landscape we are in today and has been superseded by newer technologies. Mention is made of their “server” on many occasions. In the modern era of cloud computing one would move this infrastructure to a cloud provider like Amazon, Azure, Google Cloud, there are more options. No more server to be concerned about, only your own code running in a form of a scalable container and a secure hosted database to store data.

However, a dedicated server was used based on comments I read; you need to keep that server up to date with security patches and do further administration work to secure (harden) the machine. Part of your strategy must be routine backups and how to restore from those backups as your security may still be breached.

Older versions of Windows Server (guessing operating system based on ASP.NET Webforms usage limiting it to Windows and the age of Formgrids) are extremely vulnerable to a variety of attacks, there are nefarious systems that trawl the web, interrogating websites to see if they run outdated versions of software with known security holes and they scan for open ports. RDP is usually targeted with these attacks. This has caused businesses great damage and is not always a targeted attack, but usually opportunistic in nature. I have been attacked on a non-business server in this fashion before.

In my own opinion, Formgrids was a victim of such an attack, they had no backups (or if they did it was on the same server) which resulted in a loss of data.  Sadly, it would seem they fell victim to their own lack of foresight, education on web and server security and preparation for such an event, which could be seen by how long it took to get back online.

Racebook from there onward

Racebook was now live (prematurely so), which slowed progress on the wider project, as the focus of users was now on form rather than on our original goals.

I am proud of the work that went into getting Racebook to where it is today. There is a lot of work the public has not seen as yet.

Software is a never-ending pursuit and a product such as this is never complete and there is a lot more work to be done to improve it.

Racebook at the time of writing is down due to a move in DNS records and re-configuration that is needed of the security certificates and should be up soon. I am no longer involved – my focus is entirely on fintech and banking and I only act as an advisor to the new development team when needed.

In conclusion

I have not had any involvement in racing or related projects for nearly two years.

I have no interest in entering any debate over this, especially not in the comment section of news websites or forums.

We live in an era of click-bait and hearsay and the audience of “Winning Ways” was unfortunately served up a poorly presented, one-sided story which would leave any reasonably objective audience with more questions than answers.

My only reason for speaking out is that allowing rumours and speculation of this nature to run unchecked can only serve to sow further dissent in what is already a small (shrinking) and divided industry at a time when it can least afford it.

I have been offered the opportunity to air my side (only after phoning the host to question their approach to this issue).

I will not take up the offer as I do not think I can present my side more eloquently or comprehensively than I have done here.

I consider anything on the internet to be permanent (even if deleted) – this episode is damaging, false and should be taken down.

  • Divan Möller wrote in the Sporting Post Mailbag – published without edit


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