Mailbag: Where There’s Smoke

Last week's mailbag writer needs to check facts

I refer to the letter ‘More Smoke For Benson’ from John Carroll in last weekend’s issue (SP 1663) and wish to set certain facts straight for the edification of your readers regarding the WCBA sponsorship issue. I would also dearly like to understand in what capacity the correspondent writes as he quotes information and figures which are incorrect. He really should verify the credibility of his sources, before taking a public swipe.

The Western Cape Bookmakers Association sponsorship of the Staying Race Series in the Cape was a well intentioned effort by the association to support horseracing and also to create an awareness of the role and services offered by the Western Cape Bookmakers themselves.

The figure of R15.000 mentioned by Mr Carroll is totally incorrect and in fact exactly half of the R30.000 (excl VAT) paid to Gold Circle. I have the documentary evidence to substantiate same should any party wish to view this. I am sure Gold Circle will ratify any legitimate query in this regard. Mr Carroll is correct that the norm for a sponsor is to pay 30% of the advertised stake, which in this case was R150.000.

The WCBA negotiated this reduced fee due to the fact that we were bringing a whole lot more to the table other than the naming rights for the main race and the other supporting races on the day. In addition to the sponsorship of the Cape Summer Stayers Handicap we put up, inter alia:

-A R250.000 cash bonus for any horse that was successful in all the 3 nominated races that comprised the “stayers series”

-A points based scheme was run over the 3 races with the following prizes offered:

a. R30k betting voucher to the owner who accumulated the most points in the 3 races,R15k voucher for second and a R5k voucher for third most points.

b. R5k betting voucher for the trainer who accumulated the most points.

c. R5k cash prize for the Jockey who accumulated the most points.

d. R1k cash prize for the groom of the horse who accumulated the most points.

In addition to this,on the day of the race itself, further betting vouchers were given to the winning connections of all the races and a cash prize given to the winning grooms. The winning jockeys of the various races were also each given a “pro cush” riding crop as a prize.

The betting vouchers for the points series were procured from our members who gladly came to the party. This includes Betting World who along with Hollywood shared the sponsorship of the R30k first prize- Hollywood put up the R30k voucher in the 2007 series and Betting World in the 2008 series.

Therefore Mr Carroll’s insinuation that Betting World sponsored the “majority” of the vouchers is factually incorrect and borders on undermining the contribution of all the members of the WCBA, who all more than willingly contributed to the initiative. It is more than obvious that not all Bookmakers businesses are similar in size and therefore it makes perfect sense that larger Bookmakers like Betting World and Hollywood with large advertising budgets were more than willing to sponsor the major prizes. This does detract in anyway from the contribution of all the other Bookmakers, however big or small they might be and all the betting vouchers were gladly received by all the winning connections.

His patently vindictive and unsubstantiated reference to me personally, and to use his words ‘not having provided one penny out of his own pocket’, is a blatant untruth. I personally donated two R1000 betting vouchers for winning connections on the day itself and obviously as a paying member of the WCBA contributed a portion of the R30.000 paid to Gold Circle as well as contributing in the same manner to any other expenses incurred by the WCBA, for eg the app R6.000 cost of the “pro cush” riding crops. Unfortunately Mr Carroll has missed the entire point of our gripe. Simply put, it is the opinion of the WCBA that Gold Circle have got a lot to learn when it comes to managing sponsors and also in creating a win-win scenario for both themselves and the prospective sponsor.

We needed initiative and creativity that extends beyond a few lunch tickets.

The committee of the WCBA were unanimously of the opinion that Gold Circle did not deliver marketing the whole sponsorship series and such agreed to abandon the initiative going forward and look to other opportunities to create awareness. Just for the record, since this decision we have not been approached by Gold Circle at any time to reconsider.

I sincerely hope that this sets the record straight and I will not enter into any further correspondence around this matter as all that seems to come from it are unwarranted attacks both personally and on the Bookmakers at large.

Dean Finder, Chairman WCBA – via email

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