Horses | Horse News
Proposals put to an open meeting of interested parties included:
Kenilworth Racing co-chairman Robert Bloomberg said Monday’s meeting was the first time a racing operator in South Africa had been prepared to engage transparently with all interested parties – owners, trainers, jockeys, bookmakers, breeders, operators and others.
His co-chairman, Mark Currie, echoed this: “Racing is notoriously opaque and full of mistrust. We wanted to provide insight into the history of Kenilworth Racing, how the de-merger from Gold Circle happened, how we arrived at this point, what the challenges are and how we can improve things.”
The co-chairs added that as much information as possible was made available on the state of racing, to build understanding and trust and to listen to people’s concerns about the future.
“We wanted to give racing people a boost in very trying times,” explained Bloomberg, adding that – with a couple of notable exceptions – the forum had been “positively received” and had “allayed a lot of fears”.
Racing has been plunged into crisis by Phumelela’s recent dismal financial results, falling betting turnovers, a declining horse population, leading trainers and owners quitting the game, protracted legal battles, labour unrest, controversial on-course incidents, continuing fallout from the Markus Jooste scandal and other problems.
Bloomberg said South African racing was “essentially bankrupt” but a lot could be done to keep it afloat with a view to saving jobs and positioning for a future turnaround.
“Phumelela has failed us dismally in the past. Kenilworth Racing needs its own management team to take over and do what is best for Cape Town.”
He revealed that the international sale of television rights to South Africa’s 428 race meeting a year was crucial to keeping the local industry alive. However, if the number of race meetings staged in the country fell below 407, current broadcasting deals would be null and void.
Therefore, no racing region in the country can be allowed to collapse – least of all that in Western Cape, which stages 75 meetings a year, has 35% of its thoroughbred ownership overseas-based and has 12 of the country’s top 15 stud farms.
Bloomberg and Currie emphasised that the sale of land assets was unlikely – not least because of legal contracts with the City of Cape Town and environmental issues related to fynbos. A committee established to determine how best to use the properties to support racing had been set up, with important stakeholders represented.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.