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Picture: Muzi Yeni was allowed an easy lead on the favourite King Bavarian in race 3 at Wednesday’s poly meeting and he accepted the invitation before duly setting a pedestrian pace and going on to win comfortably (Candiese Lenferna Photography)

Commentator Sheldon Peters could not hide his exasperation today (Wednesday) at the Hollywoodbets Greyville poly meeting. 

“I could run faster than they are going at the current time, they are absolutely crawling!”, he said shortly after the start of race 3, in which the hot favourite King Bavarian was gifted an easy lead.
He continued, “The pace is quite disappointing. We’ve seen a lot of slow run races recently and here’s another!”
King Bavarian duly found extra in the final stages when challenged, because he did not use up much energy out in front going at the pedestrian pace.
The great hall of fame rider Michael Roberts once said bad riding often stemmed from instructions.
Punters might have been left wondering why the inside drawn horses did not hold their positions in race 3 and make it harder for the favourite to reach the front.
Well, it would be difficult for a jockey to do so if instructed to leave the horse alone in the early stages with the aim of being handy in a covered up position.
Trainers often need to provide information and instructions to jockeys, because not all jockeys are like the Anton and Basil Marcus’s of the world i.e. ones who diligently do their homework before every race.
Basil Marcus, during his six-times champion jockey stint in Hong Kong, used to arrive in the parade ring before every race not only knowing the details of his own mount but also the details of the opposition. This led to him having an edge and being supremely confident. He was no doubt allowed by trainers to form his own tactics.
On the other hand, Michael Roberts was every bit as diligent and tactically aware as Basil was, but he once revealed that back in the day, particularly in Natal (KZN) racing, one just about needed a notebook to take down all the instructions given in the parade ring.
Of course this current general lack of pace in KZN poly racing might not have anything to with instructions at all.
However, it is confusing to observers, especially considering there is no false rail on the Hollywoodbets Greyville poly.
When there is no false rail the front runners tend to have an advantage, because the horses behind generally have to be switched outward to guarantee a clear run.
Furthermore, the poly is a faster surface than turf, which plays even more into the hands of the front-runners.
Therefore there should surely be some competition for the lead, which should then lead to a faster pace.
That there is not a faster pace on the Hollywoodbets Durban poly is hard to understand … unless it is stemming from instructions and a fear of disobeying them.
An over use of instructions probably stems from two causes:
1) some jockeys arrive without having done their homework and therefore need to be given instructions.
2) some trainers like to impose their own tactics on jockeys no matter how professional the latter are.
The following lament is often heard on a racecourse, “I told the jockey to be handy.”
However, if eight trainers gave that instruction in a ten horse field, there is a problem.
The current Durban dawdle problem might only disappear if instructions disappear.
It would be a fine day when the professional sportsmen in the arena i.e. the jockeys, are allowed free rein to employ their own tactics.
However, in conclusion it must be said this article is not based on any research, it is just qualified guessing based on hearsay and observation.
The effect of instructions on the shape of a race would be difficult to research as it would require all connections involved in a race to share their instructions, or lack of instructions,  with a researcher.
So we will probably continue to be in the dark about this disappointing trend which has crept into KZN racing.