SA Racing: Watershed Week?

The Racing Association was the lone bright light

South African racing enters a watershed week. Like you didn’t know!

The disappointments of the past few days hang like storm clouds, coupled with violent swirls of wind on social media and other group exchanges.

It is clear that South African racing is headed for a brand new race on sticky going – and the formbook suggests with not too much horse under us.

But let’s hope we at least make it to the start.

The Sporting Post is often slated in many quarters for saying too much. Today we got it in the ear from some readers for saying next to nothing. What’s the point – won’t nature take its course now?

Confucius said that the expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.

To be blunt, quoting a philosopher who never had a bet or owned a horse, is desperate stakes on our part.

But, let’s be frank, there has been no sharpening of any tools in this industry – not for years. And we are paying the price, tipped over the edge by a pandemic that nobody had heard about four months ago.

Problem is the people have had enough – everybody is gatvol, to coin a good local word.

When you advertise and offer your market a 100% beef burger, it better not bloody be 1% soya. The fact is that the customers of SA racing have been eating their burgers sans patties for years.

A week ago, at least half of us thought we had ‘half a chance’ of hailing a 2020 SA Triple Tiara Champion.

Days later, fools that we are, we are mulling over an intoxicating puzzle of that old power disclaimer – he said, she said, he didn’t, they didn’t.

Between the Special Task Team, who wore masks long before those necessary accessories were gazetted, the National Horseracing Authority, Phumelela, the Racing Association, and whichever other comatose body should have been speaking to the people, it’s just been another week of frustration for all involved.

And it’s too late to blame the government, or those 7 million applications of whatever they are looking at.

RA Acting Chairman Brian Riley – emerged with some credit in a dark week

But let’s give the Racing Association some credit for a change. It’s not something that comes naturally to anybody.

Their move to offer owners a token subsidy, was the sole bright light in a short week with two public holidays, that most of us never even noticed.

Sure, their gesture excluded the KZN crowd. But that is understood and reasonable in the light that they do not benefit from the race administration receipts in the Holiday Province.

Brian Riley and his team deserve an accolade. Maybe this really is the new RA, which we were promised?

Let’s just plead with them again to please sort out the Kimberley crisis.

As for the rest, we mostly reserve comment – but there are others who are trying hard.

The tireless NHA CEO Vee Moodley has his detractors.

But the word is that he had two masked Judas’ behind his back, it seems.

So for all his and Hazel Kayiya’s efforts – we haven’t actually seen the application – racing is still in the long queue and who is betting on a bus coming by in the next week?

In the negative box, we would have liked an update from the NHA on Friday – rather than a Phumelela generated notice telling us that Turffontein was off and what the NHA were supposedly doing. That was strange!

Then Phumelela. Their name is of Xhosa origin and means “Succeed, achieve,prosper”. Have they ever lived up to that?

An American journo wrote of North American horseracing almost a  decade ago:

The problem is too few racing fans, punters, owners, and investors in the sport. The problem is lax regulatory oversight. The problem is the lack of cohesive, central leadership. The problem is lack of lobbying power. The problem is poor marketing. The problem is that no one outside of horse racing remembers who won the Kentucky Derby five years ago.

Bar one or two local tweaks for ours, it sounds excruciatingly familiar, doesn’t it

That’s enough rambling for now.

Bring on 4 May. May the fourth be with you!

No local racing, but plenty of other action, we are led to believe.

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