Calls To Re-open Flamingo Park

This week's poll - The Northern Cape poser

While it was on the cards from 2019 and even earlier, Flamingo Park Racecourse and the adjacent training centre in Kimberley was closed at the end of July 2020 leaving collateral damage that is still being felt in 2022.

While the writing was on the wall for some time, and the local community even endured a brief stay of execution, which was steamrollered by the onset of Covid -19, it all came to an abrupt and dirty end.

Flamingo Park was undoubtedly a strategic venue in terms of creating opportunities for horses not able to compete at other centres and at the time there were undertakings that races to enable these lesser horses to remain competitive would be added to the racing programmes at the four remaining racing centres.

But those alternatives were bleak compensation for the men and women who had made the dry wasteland their home and given their lives to keep the Northern Cape venue going through some tough years.

One was former multiple local champion Cliffie Miller, whose 43 years in the Diamond City went up in a literal puff of smoke with the boardroom decision to call time on South Africa’s only sand racing track.

After a multimillion rand refurbishment of the racing surface and the construction of 140 stables in 2005, the Kimberley Racecourse was renamed Flamingo Park.

The track was a kind one to horses, and a Monday afternoon institution for generations of punters.

It had provided around 36 racemeetings annually, but was reported to be losing R23,5 million a year and had the lowest TAB turnover in the country.

Watch this SABC news report:


Cliffie Miller, who subsequently spent some time at Ashburton in KZN, and is now based at Fairview, pleaded at the time that the sand arena’s importance to the racing industry should not be measured purely in terms of betting turnover, and rather seen as a vital platform in the overall economy and cog in the wheel of SA racing.

“We were an outlet for a range of horses. We bought horses that were bred to race on sand and many of those that ended up there would only ever be competitive in Kimberley on the sand. You can count on the fingers of one hand those that could also compete on grass. What happens to those horses today? I still believe that serious consideration should be given to resurrecting Flamingo Park for the sake of racing and the people that worked and loved the place, and made it their home. Why can’t we make a plan and try and make it work?” asked Cliffie.

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Should Flamingo Park Be Relaunched?

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