Walking On Dangerous Ground

When they are not censored or edited, the Tellytrack post-race interviews serve as a ready medium of entertainment and information. Whether it be the eloquent and vocal Trainer Ian Jayes championing the cause of the oppressed and unheard, or a jilted and frustrated owner using the platform to speak his mind, the interviews make for an important unscripted conduit of information. There is a fine line though between right and wrong.

It is apparent that a deep level of unspoken frustration simmers at all levels of this game. I personally get a batch of emails every week from punters and owners particularly, where they voice their concern and ask me to cover a subject. There is a always a story or plot but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty I find that an inherent fear exists and very few folk are prepared to go ‘on camera’ as it were, and have themselves quoted. I am happy to cover anything that serves racing’s interests and I have tried to be constructive and get the feedback from the authorities. That is, if time and circumstances permit.
Saturday afternoon dished up a good examples of a post-race interview that was a little below the belt in my book. Settling personal scores, whether they are valid or not, on national television is a dangerous and perilous course to follow. I am not going to go into the specifics of the specific attack, but while it may be an indicator of the frustration that exists, Tellytrack is not the correct channel and one cannot support owners lambasting trainers for alleged misdeeds and general poor treatment. On the flipside, one could argue that Ian Jayes is out of line, but he has never mentioned individual names that I have heard and generally questions the actions of entities and also the ill-functioning systems to which we are exposed.
The racing forum administrators have also had their own personal challenges recently with personal dirty laundry being aired and the consequent recriminations flying to and fro. This is dangerous ground and one hopes that this doesn’t signify a new era of back-stabbing, smut and pettiness that can only detract from the excellent and informative debate around genuine issues of racing interest. In fact, we have said it before, the Scotfreeracingwebsite and the African Betting Clan are the only two forums that exist for any form of expression beyond the Sporting Post mailbag. So let’s hope that sanity prevails.
It all comes down again to access to information and communication channels. I have had the first-hand experience recently to witness that there are highly placed individuals in the game that are happy to listen and to sort out problems as and when they arise. But those with key cell-phone numbers and gold-card access to the halls of power should not be the privileged few. Every single sole who contributes in any way should have access to be heard and to have a problem or issue resolved. We seem to be a long way from that heaven.


Cold Blooded Reptile

The Sporting Post’s Random Thoughts (www.sportingpost.co.za) ran the story recently of the Reptillian incident at Durbanville last Wednesday. The Riaan Van Reenen trained mare started favourite in the fifth race but lost her rider Grant Van Niekerk as the gates opened. She was picked up as a riderless horse about 600m into the race by race-caller Rouvaun Smit and thereafter the fact that the favourite was scratched, was not mentioned again.
Whose function was it to ensure that punters were informed and given an explanation as to what happened within a reasonable time after the race? Tellytrack glossed over it when the result went all-clear. That was it. Apparently Tellytrack’s Stan Elley did touch on it in the post-race interview. And as one of our readers pointed out it was covered in the Stipendiary Stewards report. But the interview was only shown in the evening and what does the Stipes Report help when it is only accessible the next day, if we are lucky, for most of us?
The Reptillian incident represented a gross breakdown of communication and customer service.


Guess Work?

The small things count too. When it comes to service, the Gold Circle Betting World outlet next door to Victory Gaming in Milnerton, which I utilise from time to time, is probably one of the friendliest totes I have ever visited. But it has had a defective customer indicator board on their counter for what feels like six weeks now. This is the LCD display that shows the customer what is due to or by him. It is a very important piece of service equipment and more importantly customer security equipment, as it reflects and shows the set-off of winnings versus bets struck. And when one is handing in ten betmark cards and sundry tote tickets for checking, and hopefully payment, we are obliged to accept the word of the cashier as to what is or isn’t due. Or we can alternatively do a manual calculation – but the hurly burly of a pre-race queue does not lend itself to this.
The staff are extremely friendly and helpful at this outlet but looked bemused when I asked them why the display was still not working last Friday. The manager said that ‘they had been to fix it, but it broke again.’ So it just gets left? While we don’t like to admit that these apartheid throwbacks exist still, this is really a grooms betting outlet and I am the only white guy that I have ever seen in the place. One of the black customers suggested to me that that was the reason things were ‘just left.’
Maybe nobody cares, but it really is not good enough.


The Good Life

Besides planting 2000 new vines, attending to the work force, co-ordinating budget meetings, receiving visitors every day and delivering foals, ‘life is great’ for Avontuur General Manager Pippa Mickleburgh.
Eight foals have been born on the magnificent estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West this season so far as we go to press. Pippa says they’really are a bunch of lovely specimens’. Included in the Avontuur maternity ward are a Jet Master – Sports Chestnut filly, first foals for both Mochachino (by Var) and In Camera.(by AP Answer), a Horse Chestnut filly for Sea Of Calm ( USA), a Jay Peg – Alluvial colt and a Western Winter – Viva filly.

So it has been no sleep for Pippa and staff this past week but the stunning babies are all strong and healthy,and it has all been ‘well worth the sweat and tears,’ she says with her characteristic laugh.

She added that the eight time multiple Group-winning Windrush mare A Daughters Legacy has also settled in well at her new home and she has been joined by Avontuur’s newest acquisition, Baltic Beauty, a speedy three-time winning full sister to Mother Russia. They were both trained in their racing careers by Phillipi-based Riaan Van Reenen.


Hounds – no grey areas

Following my piece on the imminent advent of dog racing (Barking Up The Wrong Tree – SP 1757) Gold Circle’s Chief Operating Officer Graeme Hawkins kindly responded to my request for clarity on whether Gold Circle are considering going to the dogs or not. The official answer is that Gold Circle have no involvement in or plans for dog racing at this stage but that they would have no problem with the sport, if properly regulated and controlled. Thank-you Graeme.

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