Cape Racing Renaissance – Bortz Calls For Blood, Sweat, Tears

'Best thing in almost 40 years' - Eric Sands

Leading owner and successful international businessman Greg Bortz has emerged as a potential white knight, in partnership with South Africa’s leading sportsbook operator Hollywoodbets, to breathe some much needed life back into a crippled Cape horseracing.

In a meeting with Cape trainers on Wednesday afternoon at Kenilworth Racecourse, Mr Bortz outlined broad details of the intended current transactions, future plans, challenges and problems, and some ideas for the future.

Greg Bortz chats to the Snaith brothers (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

“We are not jumping the gun, and there is naturally red tape and regulatory procedure to follow. But we are advanced with planning and we can expect some new faces at Kenilworth Racing as we implement changes,” Bortz told the Sporting Post on Friday.

This follows a joint press release on Tuesday 5 July, wherein the trustees of The Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust and the board of directors of Kenilworth Racing Pty Ltd informed all stakeholders of proposed transactions that would have a significant impact on the future of racing in the Western Cape. This includes an expression of interest with GMB Investments (Pty) Ltd (“GMB”), a company represented by Mr Bortz.

The trustees of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust have also counter-signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hollywood Sportsbook Holdings (Pty) Ltd for the purchase of all the Trust’s shares and claims in Kenilworth Racing.

At Wednesday’s well-attended meeting, Bortz outlined that it was time to bury illusions of the glory days of the 1980’s and to deal with the real 21st century demands of horseracing.

“We need to cut our coat to suit our cloth. It is going to require a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Trainers will have to buy in, and we will all have to work together. I was heartened by the response on Wednesday. The bottom line is that we all want it to work,” he added.

The appointment of a new Director Of Racing Operations of Kenilworth Racing will be one of the first implementations, according to the dynamic investor.

“Improved field sizes, decent stakes and focussed realistic programming are priorities. The horse population needs to be addressed. We need to cater for lower MR-rated horses, as one example. We also need to have our finger on the pulse,” he said, when touching on various aspects with the trainers present.

Eric Sands (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Eric Sands (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Trainer Eric Sands said that the Bortz presentation was the most positive he had experienced in close on 40 years in the game.

“I like it. All my colleagues liked it. Naturally the test will come with delivery. And I’m keen to see who is appointed as the CEO or Director Of Racing Operations. That person will need to share Greg Bortz’ passion, energy and positive outlook. We have to support this initiative and all pull together in the best interests of saving our sport,” he said.

Piet Botha (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

Trainer Piet Botha has been a major motivator to uplift the game. He told the Sporting Post that he feels that the next decade is going to be a champagne era for racing.

“Greg Bortz spoke our language. We got the sense that we were listening to a genuine and professional proposal and considered plan to right the ship.It’s very exciting times and we are ready to make it work,” he added.

Trainer Dean Kannemeyer, who is also based out at Milnerton, said that the presentation by Greg Bortz was one of the most professional and insightful information sessions he had attended.

Dean Kannemeyer (Pic- Candiese Lenferna)

“One gets the feeling that this is the real deal. I feel great hope and am positive for the future. The consensus amongst my colleagues was upbeat. I take my hat off to Greg and the Hollywoodbets team – it’s a major project, but I believe we are in very good hands,” he added.

Greg Bortz spoke to the Clocking The Gallop team earlier this week:

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10 comments on “Cape Racing Renaissance – Bortz Calls For Blood, Sweat, Tears

  1. Kenny Masilela says:

    There are too many conditions races in Cape Town, races which are won mostly by favourites, and that’s a turn off to many punters.

  2. Peter ellse says:

    If you want more horses make horse ownership more sffordable to the aversge man in the street atm it is a rich mans game the aversge punter would love to own a horse but the overheads dont allow it

  3. Cliff Do Carmo says:

    @Peter Ellse, horse ownership is as affordable as R50 a month in SA. There are many syndicates putting in the effort and money to attract new owners/punters to the game such as the IRC, SA punter forum, Centenary, Normandy, etc etc etc. Whatever syndicate offer suits your pockets and desire, it’s there I promise.

    The challenge goes beyond more horses, the challenge is around the “upgrade”, the “relevance” of the sport. Its core model is archaic if you will and it screams for an alignment with the modern day consumer/punter/fan. How?when? what? who? where? that’s not for me to answer.

    I compliment Mr. Bortz (GMB) and the Heffer family (Hollywoodbets) for expressing their commitment to turn KR around. Wont be easy but I cannot see a better bunch of successful passionate businessmen to steer the ship onto the right path. Wish you well!

  4. Michael Jacobs says:

    Kenilworth/Cape Racing has been directionless for the better part of the past 10 years, so it is good to see decisive leadership finally coming to the fore. We all hope that the new broom will clean out the rot and rejuvenate the industry in Cape Town.

    For some reason Cape Racing allowed itself to be pulled from pillar to post between Phumelela and Gold Circle. The racing operations were managed at a distance by Phumelela and resulted in no focus, no strategy and most notoriously a total disregard for the customer/punter! It even resulted in a disastrous SunMet where less than 8000 people attended! That period of buffoonery led to the precarious position Cape Racing finds itself in today!

    Now that Mr Bortz and his partners have taken over Cape Racing, we hope that there is going to be a genuine effort to put Cape Racing back on track. I hope they understand that without the punters/customers they are flogging a dead horse (excuse the pun). Fortunately Hollywood Bets is quite strong on customer experience/service, so there is hope. Marketing, customer loyalty, innovation, exotic bet and tote refresh and improved customer experience are the key pillars to revive the industry in Cape Town. We understand that finance, cash flow and stability are their main focus, but all of that will be in vain if the customer is not their main focus.

    I wish them good luck, they certainly need it.

  5. Leo Murfin says:

    Hi Mr. Ed, Are we ever going to see an interview held with trainer Paul Peter for his huge achievement of breaking the South African record for the amount of winners trained in a season ?

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Leo
      We are interviewing Paul for the championship in that final week.

  6. Jesse naidoo says:

    Thank you Greg Bortze your iniatative in spearhearding this bold way forward its what racing needs not the naysayers who are hell bent on shooting good intentions down good luck with your endeavors

  7. Mrs VR de Bruyn says:

    This is a different request
    If you would kindly suggest to your variuos people that do the commentating to memtion numbers of horses as well as names.
    We cant all afforcd race carfs and ird not eady to wtite names cause tje time is short

  8. Peter ellse says:

    Editor pls do article on syndicates contact no email for the lower end punter to join

  9. Myappy Panis says:

    South African Racing.
    not sure if this is the right page for the comments below.

    The game needs new blood!
    New ideas!
    Needs to be marketed correctly! (this is one of the biggest issues in the game)

    Unfortunately SA racing is one big click and always will be, driven by egos!
    To many chiefs!

    The day you put the punter 1st and give them an incentive to BET is the day the Industry will boom! (BET into POOLS)

    At the current moment Its all about owners, trainers and jockeys (we must never forget the life blood of any business is the customer)
    No disrespect -Customers don’t care about Mr. Bortz, Mike De kock, Mary Slack, or how much a horse was sold at the sales, that’s another level in the game!

    Customers need to be looked after and taken care of their needs while betting into the POOLS!
    Im Talking about the punter that is sitting in the stands or are they not fancy enough for the game!

    Take MY BIG BETS tipster for an example over 21k followers in a year on twitter and charges a fee.

    (Has Introduced new blood to the game more than any other tipster/bookmaker/4racing etc.)
    This guy does wonders and increase T/O and most important introduces new CUSTOMERS to the game.
    Yet has no recognition and we ask WHY?
    because everyone in the game cant see the trees from the forest!
    He is not in the horseracing click, but yet he owns horses with some of the biggest owners in the game.(Does this make him important now??) if yes, I rest my case !

    The game can never be successful if you do not know the needs of the consumer and when we have the directors sitting amongst the Racing clicks looking pretty and have never been a real “TRUE PUNTER!

    Everyone would wake up!
    not hard to do on social media and groups!

    Wishing you all the best!

    End off with the below.

    The game needs new blood!
    New ideas!
    Needs to be marketed correctly! (this is one of the biggest issue in the game)


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