where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2021-11-23 00:12:40  
What the Declining Tote means 4 racing? NO PUN!


The recent action in the press room and the sales ring in South Africa have supposedly garnered hope for South African racing.

The well timed press release by 4Racing with respect to their recovery plan and increase in stakes has had the well healed chomping at the bit. Trainers suddenly came to life at the recent bloodstock sale and racing folk seemed happy.

The increase they speak of was minor but an increase nonetheless. It's a start.

Sadly the media team at 4Racing hasn't sorted out their inboxes as yet as some of mainstream racing media weren't emailed the release. Yet other items were. Forgiven for the amateur show for now as they will be taking over in December and probably haven't got the their ducks in a row as yet.

Unfortunately, horseracing is a difficult animal. In fact, it isn't like the airport environment that the new CEO comes from and it isn't just another business that needs a turnaround. That's arrogant thinking. No one in the last two decades has turned horse racing around almost anywhere in the world, bar a few gambling monopolies. Most jurisdictions have made survival the buzz word, something Phumelela couldn't do.

On that note (sidetrack alert), plenty of executives got paid handsome sums throughout their careers there and still find jobs in racing. Failed executives (some jumped ship early too) from a collapsed company expect to get employment in an industry they crashed. Yet the outsiders of the cabal remain in hope for doing the right thing by staying out of the cancerous system.

Back in line after running off course, out of Phumelela plague came the exciting 4 Racing. They have branded everything differently, most logos in place look like school badges but maybe that's the way of the future of their marketing who's to argue with the experts in the suits. They've been patted on their backs for 'out the box' thinking. Luckily some of these vocal supporters haven't been watching the Hong Kong Jockey Club initiatives and would be forgiven for declaring it such. This is in reference to some of the actual ground breaking ideas that come out of that team at Happy Valley who do actually think 'out the box'. They recent launched an app that allows one to watch live racing whilst icons on the app allow you to pick the horse you wish to follow and then it highlights it for you live in the race. Truly ground breaking technology on the racing front.

Unfortunately, the teams in place in Joburg seem to think that the industry will change by 'clever' marketing moves and bringing in a TV expert who knows nothing about horseracing. Sadly that's the tip of the iceberg in terms of the actual problems. The source is far more engaging. The source is the supply of money into the tote. The tote is ever decreasing, one could say that it will never recover due to various issues including the 'open bet' problem and the TV picture being widely available for illegal betting. The bookmakers also have a free shot at the picture in betting shops, something that Phumelela battled with for years. The correct battle it was but handled incorrectly. Akin to putting buses in a city and trying to get the taxis out. The horse has bolted on that front. The real marketing needs to be far reaching and includes major engagements of new fans. This will take years to develop and without the gambling mad population and history of horse lovers like KZN has, it will take a major marketing push. It's doubtful to be successful without engaging the correct people to do it.

Mainstream marketers will cost money and waste time. They don't get horseracing and never will. Racing does not need more blood suckers. 

A lack of horseracing knowledge by the new CEO, a brand new COO to assist on the horseracing front, brought on to assist the CEO, a lovely person is Colin Gordon but the competition is fierce in the domain of running a global horsering company. Well, global is where it should be, but isn't going to be by all accounts. Thats a wait and see statement as the 4 Racing team hopefully get their noses dirty on that front. Very few have the knowledge or capability to build an international horseracing brand with TV picture rights deals and commingling into global totes etc with no one in that team with the necessary experience. In fact, it smacks of arrogance that this hasn't been looked at in more detail. The fact that the tote was purchased and desire to create and not buy the bookmaking brand leaves one head scratching. Again another statement that takes the wait to see approach.

Leave alone the issue of tote gateways and growing a picture presence via the crumbs of what Phumelela were highly successful at as early inventors of the island gateways. The inexperienced (in horseracing) TV company that have been been employed to look after the picture is mind boggling. Seems a rookie mistake as these supposed masters of the TV picture and innovation, as they like to believe they are, will take on the mammoth task of 'selling' racing to the country and world without knowing what the needs are. A serious lack in skills there.

In the end, we are all on the same side. Racings success is everyone's success but employing mates and not experts, building teams on dreams and old school business believing this is a copy paste from other industries will be the 'death of you'! A quote from the latest Bond movie that could be adapted to many South African business these days.

Seriously though, all the best, we are counting on you.

One final statement. Build the independent media, a strong media will result in good governance and will prevent another Phumelela-like disaster popping up.  

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