Mark Currie – ‘A Historic Day In The Life Of Western Cape Racing’

'Preservation of racing and jobs'

The Sporting Post has received a personal message from Mark Currie, the ex-Chairman of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust.

The message is published in full as received.

Mark Currie – acknowledges the key players

Today marks a historic day in the life of Western Cape racing with the transfer of ownership of Kenilworth Racing to Hollywoodbets and Greg Bortz in their respective business entities.

As chair of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust when the sale agreement was signed over a year ago, I could never have contemplated just how serious the new owners would be in preserving both racing and the jobs of many people linked to the industry who reside in the Western Cape.

I feel it appropriate to highlight three gentlemen who were critical to the conceptualization and ultimate closing of this transaction.

In no particular order they are Basil Thomas, Robert Bloomberg and Greg Bortz.  

Robert initially approached me about Hollywoodbets when Kenilworth was in a precarious position, and was essentially being held together by the generosity of Mary Slack, whom we should also be extremely grateful to.

Basil will hate me for even mentioning his name, but through his many years of service to Zimbabwean and KZN horseracing, and latterly Hollywoodbets, he understood immediately the need for preserving the Western Cape chapter of racing.

My thanks go to him for listening and providing sage advice in many late-night phone calls.

Basil staked a healthy amount of his considerable reputation on taking the idea to another unsung hero, Owen Heffer, who together with Greg Bortz came to the party staking considerable money and time to restore the iconic racing province of the Western Cape.

In Greg, the province has an astute turnaround specialist who is energetic, outspoken but more importantly, passionate about the sport of horseracing.

In a short space of time, he has transformed Hollywoodbets Kenilworth and attracted likeminded people intent on building an enduring brand for both local and foreign horseracing lovers to enjoy and consume.

And finally, to Robert without whom I am not sure where we would have ended up.

Robert has performed a Herculean task in holding all aspects of the industry accountable, and has taken much criticism from many circles for his uncompromising stance on many issues.

His vision and passion has left the province in a position we can all be proud of and grateful for.

Whilst racing still remains fragmented with many challenges, I feel that with the people currently involved in the industry, we have the ability to create an enduring industry that will bear fruit for employees and staff directly and indirectly in the industry, for owners and for punters all of whom are integral to the success of our beloved sport.

  • Images of Hollywoodbets Kenilworth courtesy of Troy Finch.

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