SHAHEEN SHAW might best be described as a ‘character’. As may be gauged by his profile Shaheen is prepared to make light of most things but, at the same time, he takes his work and family very seriously. His interest in racing started at an early age with many members of his family having some sort of interest in racing. Before becoming involved in racing through presenting, Shaheen tried his hand at various businesses including working in a café and working for bookmakers. He is well known for calling a spade a spade and is not afraid to speak his mind on live TV when things go wrong. As a Tellytrack presenter, who is also a fair commentator, He is a credit to Tellytrack and when he is around he does not allow racing to become boring. Shaheen is full of praise for his wife, Rasheeda, who he credits with putting up with all his nonsense with good grace. Racing needs ‘characters’ and in Shaheen we have a character who is doing a great job in promoting racing for the good of all.
What is your name and age? Shaheen/Shane Wakefield Shaw and I am 42 (Mentally 20 and physically 68 :).
What is your birthdate and star sign? 19/06/1969. I’m a Gemini and the vast majority of fellow Gemini’s in the game, that I know, seem to have similar traits. Very compulsive and a little touched (The Lebanese have a term that describes it best, “A lil Agwit “).
Where were you born? In Fish Hoek Hospital, Cape Town. I grew up that side but my heart is in Jo’burg.
Do you have a nickname? Some call me Chainsaw.
Favourite food? I enjoy a strong mutton curry and a leg of lamb is top notch. In the takeaway department a Spur “Goody Burger” is lengths ahead. Rouvaun Smit introduced it to me many years ago. Larger than life he sat napkin tucked into his shirt and proclaimed – “How is the Spur Goody Burger matey? How is it!? Teach it respect boy…Come on! Have another and punish it along with a draught, you must have another draught…”
Favourite drink? On the wagon it would be tea. Off the wagon whatever is there to be fired.
Favourite music ? Depends on my mood but I ain’t no music fundi by any stretch of the imagination. Neil Diamond is all class. If I have had a bad day I like to sit in utter darkness listening to Tracy Chapman. In Cape Town they term it “Dronk verdriet “.
Favourite sport? Racing is well clear and Football 2nd. As for the rest I ain’t got a clue what’s up. Once I had a bet on that American Gridiron stuff. Woke up at 2am but the audio was stuffed right royally. Sat there totally flummoxed about what was good or bad for my team. My complete ignorance of the game, accompanied by the constant buzzing sound had me swallowing 2 X 50mg’s Ritalin and polishing off a half Jack on the turn. Dinkum, thought I had won but when I went to collect the next day they told me I wasn’t even close.
Are you interested in soccer and, if so, which is your favourite soccer team? In recent years I love a wager on football and watching it on telly. Great excitement and can be very intense. The wife though has little faith at all. Often I sit with ATC’s as long as my arm, constantly flicking through the televised matches and monitoring the others on the net. I will be exulted and say to no one in particular “You beauty, Molde’s gone 2 – 0 up!”. She always raises an eyebrow and asks “Who? WHO?…Have you heard of them? What idea have you actually got about soccer? Hmmm.” Bloody bad-luckness that is. Sir Alex Ferguson is my KING.
Favourite holiday destination? Years back I travelled regularly to Thailand and loved Bangkok. The wares around Patpong market are to die for and I sorely miss it. Trying to twist Dave Mollet’s arm to put together “Molly’s Racegoers tour of the Thai capital and outer limits”. Now ya talking, now ya talking!
Where do you live? In Petervale near Bryanston, just up the road from Tellytrack in Rivonia. I can often can be seen walking, armed with the days cards and using them as an imaginary riding crop as I ponder life and the “GOOD THINGS” The ‘GOOD THING ‘ 9/10 also turning out to be a mere figment of my imagination. I call it “Power Walking” but it is a slow meander and an offshoot of the ‘Cape crawl’.
Tell us about your family? Grandfather sickest. The dogs were his play and they chewed him up like a bone – O.U.T!). Father LOVED a punt on the horses and was up almost religiously on a Saturday morn to listen to the radio and the legendary 3 wise men reporting in from around the country with the going, scratchings and selections. Thereafter my dad would sit for hours with racecard, newspaper and coupons while he chewed on his pen (Black pen or nothing!). When racing began I would follow his progress by his cursing or lack thereof. I am married to Rasheeda and have 5 children, Nooraan 23 (Step-daughter), Ebrahim (19), Ayesha (18), Kim (13) and an adopted little boy named Zaid (5) our star, who keeps us all both sane an insane.
Before you became a racehorse commentator were you involved in any other business? I started, at 13, working for a Portuguese cafe owner and racegoer called Mr Jorge De Silva. This stopped me from hanging out in the Tattersalls less and serving in his cafe more. Also worked for Cape Town bookmakers Herschel and Paula Glaser, good people. Tote teller for a mere week – Disaster! Always SHORT and I had to pay in! ;).
How did you originally become involved in horse racing? Thanks to all the above mentioned, including my late geriatric aunts who besides cooking, also liked a dabble in the Saturday afternoon jackpot. Also thankful to Cape trainer Riaan van Reenen’s family (Prolific in Cape Hunt and Polo Club racing back then) and his late dad, who treated me like his own.
Before moving to Gauteng did you always live in Cape Town? Most of my life, yes. In my early twenties, Neil Andrews, who was then IGN Program Manager got me to move up to Johannesburg. This was the start of my presenting career. I worked for SuperSport thereafter for seven years and then returned to Cape Town for four, where I ran my own and fairly successful shop. However I fairly jumped at the offer to return to Jozi from Tellytrack four years ago and my heart is firmly here.
Do you have a favourite bet or do you just punt what you feel can make you the most money? Thankfully I have mellowed with age hey. I used to be reckless and just fire – go big or go home! Sooooo many times I went home O.U.T. distraught and stumbling out of some hole casino with the early morning sun shining in my face and a dull empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. So one has to learn and sometimes the hard way – cover your responsibilities first and foremost and give it a go with what you can afford. Most of us are not Rockafella’s sunshines! I like a PA, especially in the UK.
Do you have a system or just follow form? www.formgrids.com.
In the racing game, especially, there is always a lot of information flying about. How much notice do you take of this information? I have discovered the costly way – IGNORE the bullshit. Too many trainers and jockeys fancy their chances way too often for my liking. They may be great horsemen but by and large they are horrendous judges of when to put the money down. That said, there are a handful of “Rudy the shrewdies”. My advice would rather be to go with ones own gut feel.
If you were brutally honest what would you say when asked if you have made a profit punting horses? Hahaha! I would own farms in Adderley Street today if I never punted, sunshine! I still love and enjoy it ‘too muchness’ though.
What would you say to any young man, or old, who asked your advice about punting horses? No feeling like backing that 25/1 shot and shouting em home. It’s what we are still here for and crave but racing and plenty of it never stops, day in day out. No rush. Softly, softly does it. CONTROL !
Over the past couple of months you have become very involved in the soccer side of things. Is soccer also a passion of yours? It wasn’t to be honest but has become so. I really enjoy soccer betting and the excitement of watching a match where I got a wager. The skill of some of these players leaves me awestruck (I was USELESS at sports. I ran in a race once and they insisted I finished 8th when there were only 6 starters. Soccer I never tried, would have been pathetic. Played a bit of cricket, scored 2 with the bat on one occasion and raised it like I had scored a Brian Lara “Biggy”. In two school matches of Rugby I earned the name “Mr forward pass” – I had not a clue).
If you were forced to give your opinion on which of soccer or horse racing was the most profitable to punt on what would you say? Would I get in trouble if I said football?
Do you have to do a lot of studying before voicing your opinion on the soccer or do you follow it so closely that you do not need to study? I’m trying to follow but am still an appy (-4kg’s). www.soccerway.com
In your opinion do you think the soccer pools are going to be much bigger than the racing pools? I think in time to come we will all be surprised by the investment into the soccer pools. The tote have a great stable of sports bets available and more to come. I think the market is HUGE and untapped and am hopeful the cash flowing in, benefits the sport of HORSE RACING as well.
Do you find it stressful working for Tellytrack on racedays when there are meetings being run all over the world? I think any presenting/commentating is stressful and nowhere near as easy as people may regard it. Shifts are long and the lengthy spans of concentration tend to sap one. After you are finished it takes time for the body to unwind and come down from that level. I mostly enjoy it and although the day may be busier, it goes quicker with many meetings to cover. I will readily say though that I dislike working when there is Swedish Harness – not my chop!
Your wife Rasheeda appears to have a great sense of humour. Does this help to keep you focused?
Aaah Rasheeda! She deserves the VC, Purple Heart and even a winter olympics slalom medal for putting up with me for 20 years (Aargh throw in Idi Amin’s chest of medals to, if not why not.)…Unbelievable! She is a character and has taught me about responsibility whilst I have taught her a few things as well, don’t worry about that, sunshine! 😉
If you have a good win what is your favorite way to celebrate? I don’t, Rasheeda grabs the lotski.
Do you drink or are you a cold drink man? Hmmm, interesting and a very apt question at the moment – I am currently riding a stage coach in the Wild West with chasing Apaches putting me under huge pressure. Hope dem wagon wheels hold out! Let’s just say then that Creme Soda is my current refreshment.
If for any reason you had to give up your present racing and soccer business what else would you consider? I enjoy retail and would love to own/run a successful shop/restaurant one day. I’m not scared to graft 24/7.
What is the most memorable day you have had in your career thus far? There have been many but seeing a REAL champion win a big race, while the punters scream him/her home has never ceased to give me ‘goose flesh’ and make my eyes brim with tears. When watching that the feeling in ones chest is indescribable, LONG LIVE THE CHAMP!
What is the biggest success you have had as a punter to date? Doesn’t it eventually all go back?
What is the most embarrassing moment you have had as a commentator either live or off screen? Commentator? You gaaimaking? Plenty, not knowing who’s who in the zoo. Calling the wrong horses home. Too worried how the horse I backed is travelling and frankly not giving a damn about anything else in the race. Presenting – Years ago sitting down in studio, unknowingly armed with last weeks Computaform (Which I had studied thoroughly the night before) and saying the declarations and horses names on screen were “A balls up!”.
Do your children have the same enthusiasm for racing, soccer and sport in general that you have? Sadly not and when at home I will not watch a race in their presence as they can stop trains. All my daughters have got to say is “Why do they whip the horses like that?” and my aggravated response is “Cause they wanna win, fools!”. My son is crazy about soccer and poker. He can lose a big poker hand and shrug his shoulders but goes dilly if he has R25 E/W on an also ran horse – different strokes for different folks.
Racing in SA, and elsewhere in the world, is going through a hard time. What suggestions could you make to get the racegoers back to the track and to follow horse racing as they once did? LOOK AFTER THE PUNTER! Let’s improve those facilities! Gaming competition is fierce and that’s where we need to improve, now! Better and friendlier service, facility upgrades and incentives for punters. Let’s make ‘em feel appreciated, they are after all the blood of the game, the cog that drives the wheel. So many great characters who are passionate about the sport and like us all are serving a ‘life sentence’. Thankfully people like Vee Moodley, Clyde Basel and others are aware of this and these changes must and will come!
When you have leisure time how do you like to spend it? I have become very involved on twitter and enjoy the banter there. Join us at @shaneshaw69 for a bit of fun and we’ve got some useful tipsters too – Don’t worry they are far better than me! I also enjoy reading and watching all things historical. Overall I guess the way most people like to take time out.
Are most of your friends connected to racing and sport or is it a mix of those who are and those who are not? ??? Come on! They must at least have an inkling of who Muzi Yeni and Igugu are, otherwise they are soup meat.
Do you think enough is being done to keep racing ‘straight?’ NO COMMENT.
What is your philosophy on the racing game? The BEST there ever was but not for the faint-hearted.
If you had any advice for your fellow associates in the racing game what would it be? Let’s keep this beautiful game alive. Improve its appeal and get young blood rolling through the turnstiles again – VIVA LA PUNTER, VIVA!
From what you have seen and experienced do you think racing is ‘straight’? My great Aunt Lil taught me “Money makes funny”. I will take the 5th on that one.
What is your opinion on the NHA’S decision to stop betting operators from sponsoring trainers? I don’t begrudge anyone making money. Is there a quote from the scriptures about taking money from the mouth of labour? I’m not a religious man so again the 5th.
The saying is “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman”. Does this apply to…….? Rasheeda should sport more medals than “Big Daddy Amin” aka His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular. That she’s still around is miraculous, truly miraculous. Bless her!