THE decision by the Competition Tribunal to give the green light to the merger between Kenilworth Racing and The Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust is a major victory for the sport of horseracing in the Western Cape. That’s the view of Vidrik Thurling, chairman of the Western Province Racing Club and a director of Kenilworth Racing. “I’m elated and relieved,” said Thurling. “It’s an absolutely vital outcome for the future and longevity of Western Cape racing, which produces many of the country’s top horses annually.”
“Gold Circle KwaZulu-Natal had indicated they were going to challenge the stakes agreement in terms of Western Cape’s share of prize money. Had this resulted in diminished prize money for Western Cape horseracing, there would ultimately have been a mass exodus of horses from Cape Town and racing in the region would have gone many steps backwards.
“When racing in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal came together under the Gold Circle banner, the Western Cape staged more than 100 meetings annually. Next year there will be only some 85 meetings in the area. If we had fallen into a downward spiral of less prize money and fewer races in the Western Cape, it would have been bad for both Cape Town and South African racing. The whole of South Africa bets on races in the Western Cape and fewer race meetings here has a negative impact on the sport of horseracing nationally,” said Thurling.
South African horseracing and tote betting company Phumelela Gaming And Leisure has also commended the Competition Tribunal on its decision to approve the merger between Kenilworth Racing and The Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust.
The JSE-listed company is currently managing Western Cape racing under the control of Gold Circle (Pty) Limited in terms of an agreement to outsource this function to Phumelela.
Rian du Plessis, Group CEO of Phumelela, said approval for the mergers involving Kenilworth Racing would enable energetic action to be taken to return Western Cape horseracing to profitability.
Du Plessis said: “The over-riding priority of all parties is to save jobs and put Western Cape horseracing on a viable footing. The tribunal has set only one condition - that no retrenchments of Kenilworth Racing staff take place for two years.
“I believe all parties will happily accept this stipulation as our core focus from the outset was to secure the sustained, long-term future of Western Cape horseracing and thereby assure the continued employment of all those people who depend for their livelihood on the sport of horseracing.
“We commend the tribunal for their work and their far-sighted ruling.”