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Cape Trainers Need To Wake Up

'Sit down and talk to us' - plea to Phumelela

Cape Town racing has been shocked by the decision to axe Tuesday’’s Durbanville meeting – handing over R620 000 in stakes to Port Elizabeth – but, more particularly, by the fear that this could be just the beginning, writes Michael Clower.

The Sporting Post broke the story on Thursday

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The decision was taken after entries of 160 produced just 54 acceptors. The two 2 000m races had nine and ten runners but each of the other six had only between five and seven. A hastily arranged Fairview polytrack substitute produced 95 declarations.

“I think it’s a crisis,” said Tellytrack presenter and former trainer Stan Elley, echoing the view of many. “We’ve got to do something or Phumelela will cut more meetings. A lot of people’s livelihoods are at stake here.”

Elley, a member of what is effectively a local programmes committee for more than half his 41 years as a trainer, believes the problem lies with the big yards (he estimates that the top half dozen have 80-85% of the horses) often being reluctant to run their clients’ horses against each other for fear of upsetting owners.

Stan Elley

Stan Elley – trainers need to wake up

He said: “Trainers have got to wake up. Owners have to  as well and spread their horses around more while I think there should be a limit on the number of horses each trainer is allowed.

“You cannot do anything about the trainers that have their own yards but you can with the rest. It has been done in PE and I believe in Durban too.”

Last September Phumelela and Kenilworth Racing warned trainers that fixtures would be dropped and stakes reduced if the average field did not increase from ten to 12 (the minimum necessary to generate decent betting turnover). Yet this month only six of the 62 races produced 12 or more runners.

Dean Kannemeyer - saddles Real Princess

Dean Kannemeyer – ‘sit down and talk to us’

Dean Kannemeyer is one of the big trainers involved and he said: “They tell me that I am not having enough runners and they are putting me under pressure but I have moved 30 of my horses to Durban.

“I understand the need for runners but there is something wrong somewhere in Cape Town. I see meetings here with 150-160 entries but in Durban they can have as many as 700.

“What is needed is for somebody to sit down with me (and other trainers), ask how many horses I’ve got, where I want to run them and over what distances in a coming three-month period rather than being told you’ve got so many rated 70-80 etc.”

Eric Sands

Eric Sands – programming needs to be relevant

Eric Sands, a former member of the programmes committee, made the point that in February many Cape trainers want to give their horses a break after a busy summer season while most two-year-olds based here do not race until the rains come to avoid getting sore shins on the firm ground.

He added: “I am not saying that the trainers are blameless – they are not – but the programmes are drawn up only twice a year, one for five months and the other for seven, and they are done two to three months in advance which means that a horse can be running in a programme prepared ten months earlier. It should be done every three months and from a box-by-box census to make it relevant.”

Kenilworth Racing issued a press release last Friday saying, inter alia: “A number of trainers have not stepped up to the plate… the last resort is to reduce the number of racemeetings… recently a census was completed and the winter programme (April-August) is based on the latest facts.”

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11 comments on “Cape Trainers Need To Wake Up

  1. Philippi Trainer says:

    I have requested Clyde Basil to go back to an old system where each trainer must send in a list of the horses they have in training, along with their current merit ratings and preferred distances! Simple! The programme is a disaster at the moment and fully agree with Stan Elley with the number of boxes allocated to big trainers! We really need to stand together as one in the Western Cape as we have some seriously top horses but more importantly we have incredible owners!

  2. Michael Jacobs says:

    lots of waffle from the trainers and excuses and the blame game. Why can PE race with full fields every week? Why can Gauteng and KZN race 2 to 3 times a week with decent sized fields? Horses are standing idly in boxes and trainers are coining it on training fees at the cost of owners! If trainers are not going to race their horses then maybe Cape Town should only have a meeting a week on a Saturday, maybe then we will have full fields!

  3. Ian Jayes says:

    When a few yards house the bulk of the horses this is unavoidable.

  4. master says:

    People – It’s not “RACING – IT’S A RUSH”
    We should start calling it “RACING – IT’S A FUSS”

  5. Basil Nelson says:

    I think we need to stop the “blame game” and put our heads together to resolve this issue. Firstly does the WPOTA still exist , surely this would be the correct forum to do so. Notwithstanding the issue of large or small stables , i believe that it is rather simplistic to state that a trainer should have 5 runners per stable per annum. This is highly dependable upon the type of horses that a trainer may have , for example, a 2yr old filly owned by a breeder is not likely to run as often as a 4/5yr old gelding .(This is as complicated as having different MR’s for the 3 types of tracks we have in SA) Trainers in the Cape receive a large number of juveniles each year which for obvious reasons start racing in drips and drabs. To vacate sufficient stables for them a number of horses are either retired or sent to PE who in return have no problems in raising fields of a decent size.
    There are a number of other issues like training facilities and the undulating surface of Durbanville which was discussed at a recent meeting held in CT.
    The trainers recommended that the turf be lifted and replaced after levelling the surface. The committee (not trainers) rejected the proposal and voted in favour of a poly surface. This is another example of parties concerned pulling in different directions. I immediately wondered what the difference in costs will be as both Milnerton and Phillipi would have to have poly training tracks as well.

    1. Extravagantlyhorseracing says:

      Basil assumption is the mother of all errors. It has taken a number of years to see that statistics alone cannot solve the problem. Performance measured against demands based on Statistics will also not solve any issues.

      I would like to know how they are going to come by the water needed for maintaining polytracks in the blustery summer months. there is normally scant water in those months. Or does a polytrack when not in use not need maintaining. I’m asking as i dont know, and maybe its a stupid question.

      1. Basil Nelson says:

        I believe I said that statistics ARE a difficult base to measure the performance of a stable.

        1. Extravagantlyhorseracing says:

          i was commenting on your “wonder” what the cost implications would be in having a poly at Durbanville and at the training centres. Milnerton is inadequate as we speak and I have no evidence to suggest that any money would be spent there, as it cant be translated back to a take out.

  6. joao says:

    The racing in the Cape has been unpopular with the masses for years….now its unpopular with the locals…..rotflmao

  7. Ian Jayes says:

    I have a photograph of the finish of the1932 SA Nursery at Turffontein where there are 42 jockeys’ names on the board. There were very, very few trainers who had more than twenty horses in those days. The average was probably twelve and there were always full fields. You cannot have very big owners, partnerships and syndicates owning a huge amount of the horses and expect to have lots of acceptors and runners.

  8. whether its phumelela or gold circle if the trainers dont accept ,cancel meetings one would see a rise in fields. if trainers dont accept once a horse has been nominated fine them. they robbing the owners in noms fees.why nominate and then scratch???? if a vet gives a certificate that said horse cannot be nominated for 1 month. you will see how quickly they start to accept. i have heard some of the excuses owners are given why the horses were scratch. ie coughing, low grade virus, not doing well,jarred up etc. then that horse needs at least a month to get back to race fitness. cancel all midweek meetings even cancel two saturday meetings until the fields improve. it would not take long for field sizes to increase.

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