TCO2 Testing – SA Punters Forum Weighs In

Sanity has to prevail

The SA Punters Forum has stepped into the TCO2 testing debate and has called on racing authorities to communicate any plans that may be in the pipeline to protect all punters and owners, or to advise whether it’s a case of the customer being forced into accepting ‘the new normal’.

The shock scratching due to elevated TCO2 levels of the odds-on favourite and popular exotic bet banker One Stripe from the Gr3 Langerman at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Saturday saw a social media storm erupt, with the Sporting Post inundated with calls from angry punters, many threatening to abandon their lifetime passion and pursue less stressful and more rewarding hobbies.

The Snaith Team give Eight On Eighteen a refreshing splash after his Langerman victory (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

At Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Saturday, 50% of the 14 scratchings were due to elevated TCO2 levels, and these included 3 from the Vaughan Marshall yard, 2 from Brett Crawford, and 1 each from Candice Bass-Robinson and Piet Botha.

“We have to sit around a table and decide what’s best for racing. This is not it. It’s an easy fix. We don’t want cheaters in this game, but there are people being caught in the crossfire,” Justin Snaith said after unsaddling the Langerman winner Eight On Eighteen on Saturday.

Leading and widely respected Vet Dr Ralph Katzwinkel spoke to the Sporting Post in May, making reasonable suggestions – read more here.

But is anybody in authority actually prepared to listen to reason?

Interestingly, both Vaughan Marshall and Brett Crawford have had over 60 horses tested over a  period of weeks prior to Saturday, and all cleared the hurdle. Now on one day, they suddenly have 5 positives between them. What are we missing?

In previous communications with the NHA, the Sporting Post was informed that random races would be selected for testing on a particular raceday. This modus of all runners in selected races being tested appears to have changed, and only a handful from every race are now being selected. There has been no indication whether the selection of horses is random, or based on other criteria.

Speaking on behalf of the 6000 member SA Punters Forum, which includes mostly small punters and owners, and some jockeys and trainers, spokesman Deva Govender said that they understood and respected that the TCO2 testing is needed to level the playing field in the sport they all loved.

“However, on Saturday once again an odds-on favourite was scratched just before the feature race at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth and most punters’ exotics tickets were in the bin as the subsequent tote favourite in the race did not win,” he added.

Mr Govender explained that punters generally look for a banker in the structure of the Pick 6 and Jackpot to increase their percentages.

“These days with results so unpredictable, with more and more odds-on shots losing races, it’s becoming even more difficult for a punter to catch these exotics. Now throw in the TCO2 testing and we face bigger challenges. I hope the authorities are looking at some way of protecting the punter, and if something is being considered, please can these be communicated to all of the racing public.”

Members of the group race their horses under the banner of the SA Punters Forum Syndicate.

“As small owners, I can personally tell you that we have very little dealings with what goes on at a racing yard and we have no knowledge of what can or cannot be administered to a horse in their training. Even though we have not been subjected to a horse being withdrawn prior to a race , we will naturally be very disappointed if that had to happen to us. I’m sure most trainers do their best for their owners – and they do it fairly. As small owners all we do is pay our fees and hope we earn some stakes each run to help us maintain our horses,” he reflected.

He said that he felt the process as it now stands is unfair to owners and punters.

“We may just make up the numbers to keep the industry afloat, but if we are all going to exit the game, we will have a situation where only the top owners will be racing against themselves.”

While nothing could be confirmed, the Sporting Post has been informed that a meeting of Trainers is scheduled for this week and that there are other processes underway from various quarters.

Saturday’s Hollywoodbets Kenilworth TCO2 positives:

  • Candice Bass-Robinson trained LOVE SHACK – elevated TCO2 levels (declared 13h04 on 20240622)
  • Brett Crawford trained PORT LOUIS – elevated TCO2 levels (declared 14h17 on 20240622)
  • Vaughan Marshall trained ONE STRIPE – elevated TCO2 levels (declared 14h49 on 20240622)
  • Brett Crawford trained BLUE BAY – elevated TCO2 levels (declared 15h59 on 20240622)
  • Piet Botha trained BATON ROUGE – elevated TCO2 levels (declared 16h38 on 20240622)
  • Vaughan Marshall trained TWICE THE MASTER – elevated TCO2 levels (declared 16h38 on 20240622)
  • Vaughan Marshall trained LOCKHEEDLIGHTNING – elevated TCO2 levels (declared 16h39 on 20240622)

Ed – A copy of this editorial is being distributed to racing authorities in South Africa at the request of the SA Punters Forum.

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