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Brandon Bailey has pledged to not back horses shorter than 15/10 (Picture: Cape Racing)

Some have pledged to stop listening to voices telling them not to back a horse.

Making pledges at the start of every new year is a tradition that goes back thousands of years. When ancient civilisations began to make New Year’s resolutions they were intrinsically interwoven with the prevailing mythology, religion and economic realities within their society.

These days the custom has morphed to a more personal experience wherein the individual commits to improving either their own lives or that of others or perhaps even both.

I hadn’t thought a great deal about 2024 and my personal pledges for the next calendar year but when I began penning this piece and committed to the process I thought how much more interesting it could be if I scouted some of my fellow horseracing journalists and asked them to share their New Year’s resolutions.

Cecil Mthembu was one of the first to respond and in so doing set a solemn and authentic tone that reminded me of the Hippocrates quote that “Health is the greatest of human blessings”. Cecil’s principle pledge is to be more active in prostrate cancer awareness. Secondly, he is resolved to stop finding reasons why a horse he likes should get beaten.

In committing to the courage of his convictions, Cecil’s resolution was not that dissimilar to that of renowned freelance sports writer Gary Lemke.

This year Gary undertakes to put all his bets before a meeting and not listen to anyone who might sway him from his original opinion.

I specifically asked Gary for his input not because he has won the award for South Africa’s Sports Writer of the Year three times or because he is an Equus Media Winner but on account that, along with Charl Pretorius and yours truly, he’s one of the Diamond Geezers who have all too frequently failed to trouble the judge in the Hollywoodbets Punters Challenge.

And so to the 2024 aspirations of South Africa’s most accredited horseracing journalist.

Ever the able entrepreneur, Charl Pretorius has a New Year’s resolution which will continue to stimulate South African racing. Charl is intent on introducing new people to the sport through putting together a few more racing syndicates.

Alistair Cohen, Senior Manager of Broadcast and Commentating for Cape Racing, is someone who I’ve always known as one of the most mild mannered and accommodating men in racing. Yet he’s managed to take his propensity for forbearance to even greater heights by telling me that in 2024 he wishes to be more tolerant of people. In so doing Alistair will constantly remind himself that everybody has a voice and everybody has a reason.

Fellow Cape commentator Brandon Bailey is a punter after my own heart and his New Year’s resolution was probably one that I made myself over 40 years ago. I hope he has more success with it than I did!

Brandon aims to no longer punt horses whose odds are shorter than 15-10. Demonstrating both his willingness to always share the honest truth and an endearing sense of humour, Brandon lamented that it’s only taken 13 years and two maxed-out credit cards for him to realise that there’s zero value in punting horses on the nose when they are deep in the red.

If by now you’re feeling somewhat guilty that you haven’t yet committed to any 2024 resolutions don’t stress, historically you have plenty of time.

When it comes to New Year pledges, January is the new March.

The First Babylonian Empire was the first recorded civilisation to make New Year’s resolutions. That was nearly 4 000 years ago and their new year would always be celebrated with the arrival of the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere. As such crops would have been planted in the month of March triggering new beginnings and hopeful expectations.

In solidarity with King Hammurabi and the Babylonian sun god Shamash, I have strategically chosen to delay my own 2024 resolutions till our southern hemisphere equivalent, the autumn equinox, kicks in.
This will conveniently buy me the time to see whether See It Again wins the WSB Cape Met, an outcome that will influence my mood and the remainder of my year.

So lets get back to some New Year’s resolutions from two passionate and talented racing men who I’ve collaborated closely with on the Clocking The Gallop brand.

For Nico Kritsiotis, this year will be about standing up and representing what he believes is right for horse racing in South Africa. Nico has resolved to say what most people think in whatever discussion, forum or meeting he enters. Nico added: “At least I can sleep when I go to bed.”

The Ghostryder, who has a proven record of finding winners at long odds on Clocking The Gallop podcasts, was eager to share his New Year’s resolution, especially as it also mentioned Babylon.

The Ghostryder says in 2024 he’s committed to calling out self-proclaiming tipsters who he says “babble on” ad nauseum about their unsubstantiated success. He sees such flagrant narcissism as bad Form that shouldn’t see the light of day and must rather remain burrowed well below ground.

To that end he’ll have an army of supporters familiar with the Dunning-Kruger Effect which is defined as the outcome when a person’s lack of knowledge and skill in a certain area causes them to overestimate their own competence.