Cape Racing – Currie Calls For Calm

'Let's rather rally around and seek a solution'

Chairman of The Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust Mark Currie has urged all stakeholders to disregard the ‘noise’ around Kenilworth Racing and support the process of placing the region in the best possible hands to achieve a sustainable future.

In an open letter to stakeholders, Mr Currie writes that, whilst he is the Chair of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust and writes with the permission of his fellow Trustees, he expresses his personal thoughts on the open sessions held, the letter from the NHRA, as well as various commentaries doing the rounds.

Mark Currie – ‘let’s rally and find a solution’

  • The ‘financial distress’ of Kenilworth Racing (KR)

The company is audited annually, and our auditors are required to review both the liquidity and solvency of Kenilworth Racing  prior to releasing their audit report.

They therefore satisfy themselves that we are solvent (assets fairly valued exceed liabilities) and liquid (the company can meet its cash flow obligations for 6 months after the date of signing KR’s financial statements).

KR’s assets are worth significantly more than its liabilities which is principally its loan owing to RMB (guaranteed by MOD and Phumelela).

Liquidity has always been an issue for KR since before Phumelela went into business rescue and was supported through the Sustainability agreement, facilities from RMB, as well as short-term working capital provided byPhumelela.

When Phumelela went into business rescue, the directors (both Robert Bloomberg and I acted at that stage with Robert providing executive services to KR as well) sought alternate sources of funding, reaching out to numerous stakeholders for support.

MOD were the only organisation prepared to provide such liquidity, for which the directors and Trustees were grateful to Mrs Slack for her unwavering support. MOD have to date always provided assurances that have satisfied the directors that they have sufficient liquidity to meet the liquidity test required.

Wehann Smith made reference to a ‘liquidity crisis’ that took place after the Cape Summer Season. This was caused primarily by the Omicron virus which curtailed attendance and impacted significantly on both tote turnover and sponsorship.

Again, 4Racing stepped forward and assisted with this liquidity requirement. In exchange, both MOD and 4Racing requested that adequate security be provided for these loans. When it became clear that permission for such encumbrance was required from the WCGRB, both MOD and 4 Racing still provided guarantees and liquidity for KR to continue operating.

The notion that 4Racing or MOD were trying to ‘steal’ KR’s assets is absurd as a simple repayment of the loans provided will release any security that the WCGRB sanctions as appropriate for such loans.

  • Purpose of Kenilworth Racing  / Trust meeting

The purpose of the open meeting held at Kenilworth on 5 May was to inform Cape Stakeholders of the Trust’s intention to dispose of Kenilworth Racing, as well as to note the challenges that KR currently faces.

The sale process will not be a highest cash bid wins,  but rather meeting the goals of the Trust and stakeholders of Cape Racing.

Broadly speaking, these would include, amongst others, property ownership, composition and size of stakes pot, strategy on dealing with current Cape stakeholders/customers (covering Grooms,

Trainers, Jockeys, Owners, Punters, Racegoers and Staff) as well as the mechanism for stakeholder engagement in the future.

The meeting got a little sidetracked and hopefully this clarifies our intention.

Kenilworth chute (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

  • Business Rescue

I hear many calls for Kenilworth Racing to be placed in Business Rescue.

Whilst not being totally au fait in the law of Business Rescue, I do know that this takes decisions around the company out of the hands of directors and shareholders and places it in the hands of a business rescue practitioner.

Absent of post commencement funding, the BRP would in all likelihood place the company in liquidation which would lead to a sale of KR properties to developers rather than a race course operator.

I fail to understand how this would benefit any Cape Racing stakeholders and for this reason, KR directors and Trustees have resisted placing KR in business rescue.

  • MOD / 4 Racing

I am personally disappointed at the criticism being levelled at both 4Racing and MOD. We as the racing public have short memories, and I remind all critics that MOD was really the only entity that stepped forward and stabilized racing in SA.

Whilst people may see Charles Savage and his comments as arrogant, his points are extremely well made. 4 Racing has set out their strategy for the future of SA racing and we can agree or disagree with their stance.

To attempt to disparage them only creates doubt in other interested parties as to the true colours of Cape Racing stakeholders – do they seek an enduring solution to horseracing or do they look for a soapbox to air their personal grievances with the way they perceive they have been treated?

  • Conclusion

Whilst I may be considered naïve, my call to interested stakeholders is to rally around and seek a solution for Cape Racing.

The Trustees, and particularly the Trustees dealing with the KR disposal, are independent and are committed to achieving an enduring solution for KR that will benefit all Cape stakeholders.

I urge you to disregard the noise around Kenilworth Racing and support the process of placing the reigion in the best possible hands to achieve a sustainable future.

  • Ed – this letter is published unedited and as received from Mr Mark Currie
  • Images are for illustration only

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11 comments on “Cape Racing – Currie Calls For Calm

  1. George McDonald says:

    I remind all critics that MOD was really the only entity that stepped forward and stabilized racing in SA. So says Mr. Mark Currie.
    Blow me down with a feather.
    Is Betfred not a entity. Did they not step forward?
    Is Kenilworth Racing not part of SA racing Mr. Currie?

  2. M(artin)Gram(matica) says:

    Mr. Editor who are the Trustees of the Racing Trust? There is no website. Who do they answer to? I do not understand how any outcome besides Cape Racing staying with 4Racing would be a better outcome. Where in the world have you heard of a benefactor who pays your losses? Cape owners would be mental to go any other route.

    1. Editor says:

      The trustees comprise 5 individuals nominated by the Racehorse Owners Association and 2 individuals nominated by SASCOC. Names can be supplied if required and any queries about the Trust can be directed to the ROA who undertake all administration for the Trust. The trustees answer to the objectives laid out in the Trust Deed of which the principle objective is the continuation of the sport of horseracing in South Africa.

      There is another school of thought that say they would be ‘mental’ to go with 4Racing.
      It is for this reason that Mr Currie undertakes to ensure that a proper process is undertaken before a decision is made.

  3. WILLIAM MILKOVITCH says:

    Betfred owners make millions from company treating gambling addicts

    Exclusive: Tory party donors Fred and Peter Done run health and wellbeing firm offering treatment to government staff

    Don’t leave us to pick up pieces from gambling firms’ tactics, says NHS chief

    Betfred was criticised by the gambling regulator in 2019 after it introduced games that mimicked fixed-odds betting terminals.

    The brothers who own the high street bookmaker Betfred are making millions from a business that treats public sector staff for health problems including gambling addiction, the Guardian can disclose.

    Betfred’s owners, the billionaire Tory party donors Fred and Peter Done, also own Health Assured, which holds dozens of government contracts to provide health and wellbeing programmes to staff.

    Its taxpayer-funded clients include multiple NHS trusts that also treat gambling addicts, as well as MPs’ employees, some of whom campaign for tighter restrictions on gambling.

    The Dones have taken £5.2m in dividends from the business in the past three years. They have donated £375,000 to the Conservative party since 2016.

    MPs on both sides of the house voiced dismay at the “cynical” arrangement, while the shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, said the fact the Dones were profiting from betting and from gambling addiction treatment showed an “unacceptable conflict of interest”.

    Claire Murdoch, the NHS mental health chief who wrote to gambling firms including Betfred this week urging them to improve their practices, said the Dones’ ownership of addiction services was “hypocrisy and tokenism”.

    Health Assured runs Employee Assistance Programmes, which provide companies or public sector organizations with services that staff can access to address issues affecting their wellbeing.

    Analysis reveals it holds at least £2.5m-worth of government contracts with public sector bodies, including the Houses of Parliament, local authorities and the Ministry of Defence. The true figure is likely to be much higher because some multimillion-pound contracts are awarded to multiple firms and are not itemised to show which company earned what.

    The contracts mean that Health Assured’s services are potentially used by tens of thousands of government employees, particularly in the NHS.

    Murdoch said: “The example of gambling companies providing clinics to treat the very people they have stoked […] is I think hypocrisy and tokenism.” She urged problem gamblers to visit one of a raft of new NHS clinics set up to deal with the problem instead.

    Her comments come the day after she wrote to gambling firms to say that the health service should not be left to pick up the pieces from tactics they use to retain customers with addiction issues.

    In the letter, Murdoch said: “As the head of England’s mental health services and a nurse of more than 30 years’ experience, I have seen first hand the devastating impact on mental wellbeing of addiction and am concerned that the prevalence of gambling in our society is causing harm.”

    She added that she was particularly concerned about the incentives offered to gamblers who are members of VIP schemes, the widespread use of which was revealed in the Guardian earlier this month.

    According to Health Assured’s website, NHS staff can access counselling for issues such as “reckless behaviour”, including excessive drinking or gambling.

    Ashworth said: “Addiction, whether from gambling, drinks or drugs, is a growing mental and public health emergency in society. Of course all NHS staff should have access to mental and wellbeing support, but this looks like an unacceptable conflict of interest. Corporate gambling interests should be nowhere near our health services like this.”

    Iain Duncan Smith, who co-chairs a cross-party group on gambling, said: “The whole process strikes me as somewhat cynical. You create a problem and then you get paid to try and solve it.

    “At every turn, the only thing that matters to gambling companies is to find more ways to make money off the same people.”

    In one case, at the Christie hospital in Manchester, Health Assured – which more than doubled its profits last year, to £3.2m – took over the contract from Insight Healthcare, a not-for-profit organisation. The Christie hospital declined to comment.

    Betfred is one of the UK’s largest bookmakers, with revenues of £728m last year. It has previously been criticised for its attitude to problem gambling and towards staff. It was censured by the gambling regulator in 2019 after the Guardian revealed it had introduced games that mimicked fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). The innovation was described as an attempt to bypass a crackdown on the much-criticised machines.

    In September, it was accused of underestimating staff holiday pay and then failing to tell employees that they might be owed money, even after it discovered the widespread payment problem.

    While Health Assured and Betfred are run as entirely separate businesses, they are both ultimately majority-owned by the Done brothers and share other ties.

    Health Assured said: “Due to the sensitive nature of the employee counselling service that Health Assured offer, we are unable to provide confidential details concerning clients.

    “All public sector contracts we have been awarded have thorough due diligence carried out before they are issued, including looking for conflicts of interest.”

    The Dones were asked whether or not they considered that ownership of both a gambling company and a provider of gambling addiction counselling services constituted a conflict of interest. They had not commented at time of publication.

  4. Theodore John Roelofsz says:

    YesSirree George (McDonald). We…the underlings, underdogs (SA”s gullible punters) are bombarded with legaleze as to what’s happening in the handling/running《down》of the state of affairs of Phumelela and Kenilworth Racing
    (we are still in the dark as to the furore over the Eastern Cape”s doings).
    The huge amounts of money thrown away on CELEBRITIES, PRESENTERS, RACE CALLERS and such…..by fèting them all over the country, whilst they (the racing centres) have their own people capable of doing what the “importeds” do.
    That wasted pot “o gold could be added to our racing pools to benefit us AT THE END OF THE DAY…
    Could we possibly ask for SOMEONE (totally independent) to look into the HANDLING/DISTRIBUTION and GOINGS ON into the R100m from the OPPENHEIMER DAUGHTERS..???… we feel SOMETHING IS AMISS and things are taking place WHICH SHOULD NOT BE TAKING PLACE..!!!…
    STARTERS…how much of that R100m is going to benefit the BOTTOM RUNG (stable hands, work riders, horse-minders etc and all those unsung heroes who look after the BACKBONE OF RACING.????…..

  5. George McDonald says:

    Okay William M, we get it. Betfred are money making dudes who you think are bad guys.
    Reading Mr. Currie’s article you could swear he is an agent for 4racing who is pushing for 4racing to buy Kenilworth Racing.

  6. Steve Reid says:

    I note with interest Martin Gramaticas question on the Racing Trust. Jooste made this his own personal playground and this was the tool he used to ultimately take control of racing. At the time of Baas Markus taking control of the Trust, it owned more than a third of Phumelela shareholding. Add the Kantor, du Plessis, Kalamjo Trading (Jooste and Kantor) shareholding in the company and there was never going to be anything done besides what the great fraudster wished. He furthermore had a board seat on Phumelela along with van Niekerk, so this must have been the veritable kid in a candy shop scenario for him. Anyone who believes that Larry got the position of head of the RA for any other reason, and was grossly rewarded for this, needs his or her head read.

    Lest we forget, and for many who were never aware of this, the Trust directors at Joostes coronation consisted of:

    Rodney Dunn – Chairperson
    Jooste – the countries undisputed greatest fraudster of all time
    Chris v Niekerk – Jooste confidant and fellow Steinhoff director. The original Kenilworth Racing Chairman
    Johan Roodt – Of Roodt inc Steinhoff lawyers ( you can’t make this shit up )
    Michael Leaf – ( go google NAFCOC missing millions )
    Vinesh Maharaj – SASCOC (fired for fraud at SASCOC and Larry’s get out of jail card for Jockeys International)
    MM Mbebe – SASCOC

    You will forgive me for questioning the apparent secrecy of the Trust taking some of those beauts and their history into account. Mark Currie is now Chairperson of the Trust. He of Investec/Kantor/Kenilworth Racing fame. Good luck to you all. He seems joined to the hip with Robert Bloomberg who has shown that he wears and changes a multitude of racing caps to suit the current racing agenda for his advantage. He has his rock solid principles and has shown that he will change them as often as is necessary. Currie talks of short memories in racing and he’s 100% correct. I am sure most would have forgotten that Bloomberg was the architect for the de-merger from Gold Circle. How many of the current Cape lot crying about 4racing were on the Jooste chartered flight to Johannesburg and agreed to the Jooste take over? Hang your heads, you have put Cape racing into the abyss not 4racing.

    You have got what you deserve.

  7. Michael Jacobs says:

    I wonder who Mr Milkovitch believes should take over Cape Racing? The distressed Cape Racing entity needs a partner or an injection of capital to turn it around themselves, which I doubt very much.

    So take your pick Mr Milkovitch- 4Racing, Gold Circle, Betfred or bankruptcy?

  8. WILLIAM MILKOVITCH says:

    Why to you think we are limited to the 4 choices that you have listed above, Mr. Jacobs? …and good morning to You.

    Remember, for all intends and purposes, racing is bankrupt and was bankrupt before Covid.

    I’ll suggest alternatives but the most important consideration is a viable, well, better than viable business model to substantiate the exist of CAPE RACING in whatever new entity/format.

    Cape Town, on it’s own won’t work. Walks up the beautiful Table Mountain, visits to Cape Point & drives around Chapmans Peak won’t improve the P & L statement of the Annual Financials. (P & L = monthly operating/trading results)

    Mr, Theodore John Roelofsz, many more excellent question/issues raised. Good on you Sir for standing up.

  9. stevie395 says:

    So sad. I have been a patron of SA racing since age 18 many years ago. I was a regular attendee from the 1970s to fairly recently at Kenilworth, Milnerton. Durbanville, Greyville, Clairwood, and Scottsville. No longer. We have messed up. Too many egos trying to run the show.

  10. PL.Nel 123 says:

    SiR or Steven inspiring Reid ,thank you for refreshing these painfull and terrible truths. WOW do these evil rats need to leave our broken vessel and any remiminance remotely photographed with them. Thus racing will survive happily without them. How very terrible, shamefully shame.

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