It seems that well-connected and powerful local trainers have chosen to institute protectionist policies, rather than compete against the likes of win-hungry, top raiding Capetonians of the ilk of Justin Snaith, Glen Kotzen and Mike Bass.
And chatting to locals, it appears that the once happy family that was the PE horseracing community has been divided by in-fighting and differences, with local trainers at each other’s throats with personal vendetta’s at play and a general struggle to reach consensus on the most inane of things.
Is it simply a sign of the tougher economic times that we all find ourselves in – or is it just a case of a comfort zone and not wanting to compete for a lesser share of a tasty pie?
A change to the local conditions that, amongst other things, apparently categorises satellite yards as visiting trainers and imposes restrictions on maidens and MR 64 colts and geldings and MR 60 fillies has been proposed and seemingly blitzed faster than Hear The Drums through the process by a committee that included local Phumelela representative Luciano Passerini, and multiple champion powerhouses, Gavin Smith and Alan Greeff, as well as Grant Paddock and Gavin Venter.
“We were given little time to provide any input on the changes to the local conditions. We received the memo on Monday and were told that the programme would be going to print and feedback was required by the Wednesday” says a trainer who wishes to remain anonymous, through fear of recrimination.
The trainer adds that vested interests and the success of the highly competitive Capetonians have led to a desperate rethink by certain sectors.
“Just look at the win totals of the PE champion trainers of years gone by. Now they have to share and train less winners. It is painful and it has impacted on lifestyles. So if you can’t beat them, just ban them. Sound familiar?”
The move smacks of a similar policy introduced by Gold Circle in KZN some seasons back in order to protect struggling local trainers against the powerhouse outside yards.
Port Elizabeth has grown in popularity over the years with the introduction of the polytrack in October 2013 leading to an enhanced spectrum of opportunity for owners and trainers.
But at the end of the day any restriction on competition and consequential constraints on standards must be to the detriment of the quality of the horseracing.
And horseracing is a sport with exacting standards. If you are not good enough to compete, then surely move on and try something else.
The practice amounts to nothing more than blatant anti-competitive protectionism and can only promote mediocrity.
What is your view?