ALL the world’s self-help gurus start their ‘Personal Growth’ programs with one fundamental principle: A positive attitude to life. Given any and all circumstances, one is supposed to wake up every morning smiling, praising the birds and the bees, enjoying your beans-on-toast and sending love, peace and forgiveness to everyone, even if your hate-list includes the war-mongering savage who runs South Africa’s EFF.

The ‘We’re All One, We’re All Love’ approach to life is said to attract good measures of reciprocal good and, consistently applied, promises to leave you in a sage-like state of existence, a way of life in which stock markets, computers and relationships can crash around you but a hug and a short prayer make all negatives fade into oblivion.

There are many of us trying hard to apply positive thoughts and attitudes to racing, some are not surprisingly taking the New Age route, but sometimes one has to wonder – are we fighting a battle we cannot possibly win? 

Let’s look at the attitude of the world’s mainstream press to horseracing.

CNBC reported this week, via one Jonathan Blumberg, that Her Majesty The Queen had a “side hustle” called horseracing. Wow! What a revelation Jonathan! What a scoop!

Blumberg cited figures quoted on and assessed: “…Over the past 30 years, the Queen’s lucrative pastime has earned her $9,372,441. The Queen has claimed 452 wins out of 2,834 races, about 16 percent.

“Her best year was 2016, when her earnings totalled $775,325. One of her most significant wins came in 2013, when her horse Estimate won the Gold Cup at Ascot. It was the first time a reigning monarch had won the race. She is off to a slow start this year, though: She hasn’t collected any wins yet.”

Blumberg failed to quote the amounts it takes Her Majesty to keep her horses in training and pay veterinary bills, transport and the many other accounts associated with owning horses.

Stabling and training fees in the UK amount to approximately £2,500 (at 0.5 vs the USD let’s call that $3,750 per month per horse). Let’s add to that another conservative $250 per month per horse for vet bills and diverse costs, and multiply that by another conservative estimate of 100 horses in training or at stud and the figure comes to $400,000 per month.

That’s 4,8-million per year, or in relative terms $144-million spent over the 30 years.  (The Queen has, in fact, been racing horses for over 70 years!)

The Queen is being ridiculed for her love of racing.
The Queen is being ridiculed for her love of racing.

CNBC then, becomes a true “fake news” merchant to the tune of possibly $134-million, or more, in a simply frivolous attempt to make the Queen look like someone who uses the “elite pastime” of horseracing to enrich herself at her leisure. Or, the ultimate suggestion – that horseracing is a haven in which the mega-rich enslave and rip off the poor.

If one were to add the Queen’s annual stallion fees, plus the millions spent on buying horses at sales, plus the amounts it must cost her to employ staff to look after all her horses, one can safely assume that her 30-year-loss runs close to the $1-billion mark.

The fake news (incidentally also reported by the Daily Star, CNN, the Telegraph, USA Today, Daily Mail and Huffington Post), went unchallenged as far as our research this morning showed. 

An ignorant and unsupportive media are just two of the problems we are facing in promoting racing, and why most of our efforts invariably end up in smoke.  

The writers of such articles and their publishers all seem to suffer from a hatred of horse racing. It’s not only about sensationalism, they are just not interested in portraying racing in a positive fashion. They look past the facts for purposes of entertaining or shocking their readers. And they are not keen on learning about racing either. 

Several years ago, here in South Africa, “Koos” Bekker, the much-revered multi-billionaire owner of Multichoice and Naspers fame, decided to discontinue racing from his mainstream papers including Beeld and Die Burger, reportedly because he and his board disliked gambling. He has no problem gambling massively in business and stocks, however. 

This is what we’re up against. 

Just recently the Cape Times, that doyen of truly poor journalism, left the Racing Page out of their paper, allegedly for lack of space – no warning, no apology. The editors have yet to furnish a formal explanation and wiped their ignorant backsides on complaining punters. 

The latest incident involves the Students’ Representative Council of the University of Stellenbosch, who at a critically late stage withdrew permission for their students to attend a special St Patrick’s Day Festival at which their participation was critical – at Durbanville last Saturday – hear this – “because they were concerned about the gambling aspect of horseracing.”

Anyone who knows anyone in a Stellenbosch Students’ Hostel, or anyone who has visited a pub in Stellenbosch knows that many of these students drink until they pass out – every day. A proportion of them smoke marijuana. They have against-the-rules sex in their rooms. They litter and they throw up in public places.  But no, Jesus Jones, keep them away from gambling!

Then, of course, in SA, we have the never-ending South African whites vs blacks issue.  Whites own the horses, train them, ride them. Black people have no opportunities in the game. And so on. If we look at the greater political spectrum and the traditional stumbling blocks to fair and open negotiations and the continued absence of racial harmony, goodness knows how we’re going to solve this one.

Where do we stand, then?

On shaky ground, for sure.  We’re facing biased news reports and fresh waves of hypocrisy.  We have to change attitudes towards racing. Our attitudes towards each other will have to change. Not only blacks vs whites. Racing fan vs racing fan too. We have factions within racing infighting, individuals insulting each other on idiot forums about often the most trivial issues while the sport we adore is suffering around them, around us.

There are times when there seem to be no answers to pressing questions, and all that’s pending is a monumental collapse. We’re on the brink of it. Unless, it seems, as the New Age Prophets maintain, we stay positive and Learn to Love! 

-From Turf Talk Newsletter.


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