The Western Cape may feel they have found a savior for racing in Greg Bortz, but the sport is in safe hands in Gauteng with businessman Charles Savage, the chair of 4Racing.
Dave Mollett wrote in Business Day this week that Savage is the CEO of Purple Group, a fintech company and a pioneer in democratizing the stock market for all South Africans.
He was part of the team that broke more ground in contract for difference and spread trading in SA.
After Bortz’s speech at the Cape awards at the beginning of the month, several issues arose and — on September 6 — 4Racing issued a media statement which the Sporting Post website labelled as “puzzling”.
The statement said: “Executive management, senior leadership and stake holders have received numerous inquiries regarding the veracity of Mr. Bortz’s statements.”
Sporting Post added: “It seems that particular issue was taken in the debate around Bortz’s authority in regard to the legislating of rules that would raise standards of fairness and enforce equal competition in the Cape.”
Perhaps Sporting Post had a point regarding the statement, so Business Day contacted Savage who lost no time clarifying the situation.
He said: “We wanted clarity for all stakeholders between what rules an operator can impose versus those that the NHA [National Horseracing Authority] are mandated to govern over and impose. In short we wanted to ensure that we don’t have a case of ‘differing regulatory standards’ in one region over another.
“In 4Racing’s view the governance, regulation, and with it the integrity of horse racing, is the mandate of the NHA supported and funded by the entire industry, but perhaps most notably especially the operators.
“It is also our view that this is an area that is not and should not be a point of contention or competition between operators and while we fully support innovation and improvement in these areas we are mindful that all stakeholder inputs need to be considered with the facts in hand before casting old rules aside or imposing new rules.”
Regarding the Equus awards, Savage said: “We support a rotational system giving all operators equal opportunity to host.”
Savage is an enthusiastic owner who has enjoyed considerable success with top trainer Mike De Kock. After one of his horses had carried his colours and a partner to victory in a race in KwaZulu-Natal, De Kock said: “It’s about more than owning top horses for these guys. They love thoroughbreds and the excitement of the game.”
That racing will reach a crescendo at Turffontein on November 25 with the running of the R5m Betway Summer Cup and 4Racing CEO Fundi Sithebe is doing everything in her power to promote the event. Perhaps there has never been a Gauteng CEO so available to the media.
“The Betway Summer Cup in many ways is the highlight of the highveld racing season. For punters, this is a huge day with big pools and top quality competitive horse racing throughout the day. So get your tickets early and join us for what is sure to be a sensational Betway Summer Cup,” Sithebe said.
The improvement of grooms’ accommodation is another area addressed by Sithebe and her team in recent weeks and she paid tribute to the 4Racing board who approved the accommodation renovations as part of a 4Racing transformation initiative which will see 26% of 4Racing transferred to a Grooms Employees Trust as part of a series of wide-ranging transformation initiatives.
The CEO said: “It is a very difficult economic and trading environment where we continue to fight for the survival and sustainability of the horse racing industry. The 4Racing board has been true to our company’s ethos of ‘profit through purpose’ and have prioritized basic human conditions and the dignity of grooms through the grooms accommodation renovation project.”