Is There Anybody Out There?

What conclusion and effect can the NHA enquiry really reach?

a673165004c01263b44a0b4a6ba9cf93The National Horseracing Authority have launched an enquiry into the enforced switching of the Vaal racing surface from all-weather (huh?) to turf on Thursday. Phumelela put on the show-why are they so quiet and saying so little 24 hours after the event? Taking the fifth amendment maybe?

It is an interesting situation yet again.

Let’s give credit where it’s due. Something is being done. The fact that the National Horseracing Authority have launched an enquiry is a positive and commendable step.

But Phumelela have probably got more money and legal muscle than S’manga Khumalo – and this one could go on through another decade of state of the nation speeches and power outages.

Let’s face it – what conclusion can the NHA enquiry really reach? That management is incompetent? And what is going to happen we wonder if somebody just didn’t bother to check the track before racing – or even just left the hosepipe on overnight?

Across The IceThat stuff happens – ask the jocks who almost collided with a rake on the Greyville track a few years back.

And the Vaal track manager works for Phumelela. He probably isn’t a licenced official either – so why should he be nervous about the NHA peeping over his shoulder and asking questions?

And again the entity who feeds the watchdog is under scruitiny. What do they say about biting the hand that feeds…?

For those who may not know, a jockey delegation lodged a protest after the Vaal first race on Thursday against the condition of the sand track and voiced concerns that it was unsafe to continue racing due to the inconsistency of the going.

The track apparently experienced overnight rains.

A track inspection followed the jockey protest and it was decided to allow the surface an hour to dry out.

This desperately hoped for act of god failed to materialise and a decision was made to switch the balance of the meeting to the turf outside.

All trainers were naturally afforded the opportunity to withdraw their runners and the distances of races 3,4 and 5 were changed from 1400m to 1450m.

BenbowWhile we managed to get through the meeting, the spotlight has firmly fallen again on the level of professionalism of horseracing management – and, to a lesser degree, their PR skills.

Let’s consider a few questions:

1.Was the Vaal sand not meant to be an all-weather track in the first place and what has actually happened to it’s maintenance over time?

2.Why was there no inkling of the problem and why was no inspection of the track done in the morning prior to allowing the jockeys to go out and potentially find out the hard way?

3.What are the qualifications (and let’s ask about the commitment levels at the same time) of the Vaal track manager?

4.While Bookmaker bets were immediately null and void after the change,  what about compensation to tote punters, many of whom may have been oblivious to the moving of the goal posts – after all, some people do work hey! Are they left sucking the hind tit again?

5.The NHA handicappers can surely not be happy about the summary surface switching? The fact that horses are running on the ‘wrong’ surface with their ‘correctly’ allocated weights/ ratings can only lead to confusion with what is already a bloody difficult job.

6. Will trainers, owners, jockeys and other folk who wasted their time on Thursday be compensated?

Nothing much changes and we don’t expect any answers.


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