Is There A Will To Race?

Maybe there's actually no bloody money?

It’s difficult not getting emotional about anything right now.

Whether it’s cabin fever, dwindling  wine stocks, washing your hands for the umpteenth time, or just getting your head around the fact that we are not racing, these are potentially selfishly difficult times for the more fortunate amongst us, with so many more important considerations at play.

Many suggest that we should be trying to get racing on the road.

Others ride their well-heeled moral high horses, saying there are more pressing issues.

And why should the Government really give a damn anyway about a largely elitist sport that has done itself few favours to build bridges, and prefers the court room to a dining room to mingle with the power people who could count?

The harsh reality is that, beyond the fabulously wealthy few, for the thousands invested in the game, these are dark days.

Whether you’re a Breeder, Groom, an Owner, a Trainer – or even a Jockey, who for some bizarre reason many of us perceive to be inordinately flush on average, you are not looking strong as a stakeholder.

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

So who do we look to?

The National Horseracing Authority are tasked with policing the game and maintaining the integrity of the sport.

The operators put on the show.

The stakeholders invest their time or money -or both.

Simply, thousands are dependent on this game, sport, industry, whatever you call it, for a living.

Looking at things unemotionally, and in the cold light of day, who would not be keen to be doing everything in their power to get the show up and running as soon as tomorrow – even under control, behind closed doors and with no tote outlets open?

NHA CEO Vee Moodley and his team have been talking to us.

Other than Gold Circle’s Graeme Hawkins comment on this site, Charles Savage’s communication from the Racing Association about Grooms assistance, there has been no other racing leadership that have uttered a word.

Moodley has arranged the permits for training centres countrywide and for the essential staff to operate on a skeleton framework.

He has confirmed that he has communicated with the Coronavirus Command Control Centre.

The NHA were passing horses through starting stalls just 48 hours ago in readiness for racing.

Mr Moodley has also responded to letters and inquiries from the media and stakeholders – and taken the due flak for his answers, which haven’t always proven music to the ears of the recipients.

The Special Task Team’s second press release said that a decision about when racing will resume locally after the lockdown is lifted will be dependent on government regulations as well as ‘the timing of the recommencement of revenue flow to the Racing Operators’.

So if nobody is talking, and there is no apparent suggestion of anything to the contrary, we must ponder and start making deductions – is there a genuine will and an ability to put on racing?

Maybe there’s just no bloody money?

If one looks at Phumelela’s self pronounced financial predicament over the past months, and the COVID-19 induced implosion of their revenue model, then we must start wondering if there is any genuine ability collectively to get back racing soon?

The loss of the international revenue streams, including betting on lucrative sports pools where no show costs are involved , coupled with closed totes, means that there is practically no money coming in. But lots going out in terms of monthly overheads.

It is said that something like fifty percent of the local pools originate overseas.

A large part of the market – the traditional R6 punter – does not have access to the tools for online betting, either.

Maybe it’s time for everybody to man up. Let the truth come out and for us all to accept that sordid stakes cuts are actually the least of our problems, too.

Who was it that said leadership is an action, not a position?

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