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Picture : Hollywoodbets and Gold Circle were proud to celebrate the 3000th Grooms Initiative winner on Saturday 10 June when Daniel Sithole, groom of the 1st race winner at Hollywoodbets Greyville, Rainbow Reward, was presented with a bonus prize of R3000 to commemorate this significant milestone (Candiese Lenferna Photography)

Betway to give the groom of every horse who makes the Summer Cup field a bonus of R20,000

by David Mollett (Business Day)
Bob Dylan’s 1964 song The Times They are a-Changin’ is most appropriate when looking at the welfare of grooms in horse racing over the past three years.
To say that life has gone full circle in that period would be an understatement. If a groom was asked in 2020 what life was like, the reply would probably be “pretty tough.” Fast forward to 2023, and the response to the same question would probably be “unbelievable”.
It was businessman Laurence Wernars’s Studio 88 that kicked off the grooms initiative in Gauteng three years ago.
Hollywoodbets and Gold Circle joined in while Cape Racing are also rewarding these hard workers.
The latest bonanza for grooms comes with the news from Betway — sponsors of the Summer Cup at Turffontein on November 25 — that they will give the groom of every horse who makes the final field a bonus of R20,000.
This news was announced by Betway’s Jonathan Blumburg, who said that the bonus was “reward for their many days and hours of hard work”.
The last 2022/2023 Highveld season was the third year of grooms’ bonuses sponsored by Studio 88. In all graded races, the grooms of the first horse home received R2,500 as well as a R500 Studio 88 shopping voucher. The groom of the second horse received R1,000 and a voucher and the third R750 plus a voucher. The groom of the fourth-placed horse received R500 and a voucher and for fifth there is R250 + a Studio 88 Voucher.
Three months ago — in June — Hollywoodbets and Gold Circle celebrated their 3,000th winner of a groom’s bonus cheque. Daniel Sithole received a cash prize of R3,000 after the horse he cares for won at Greyville.
The two sponsors announced at the time that they had paid out R3.6m to 1,206 grooms — a considerable sum.
Devin Heffer, brand and communications manager for Hollywoodbets, said: “The focus of this initiative was always more than just rewarding the grooms over and above their normal earnings. It was about highlighting the importance of their role in the ecosystem.
“It is about how the work and effort they put into preparing horses for racing should be highlighted, praised and incentivized,” said Heffer.
In a recent 4Racing media release promoting the Betway Summer Cup, 4Racing CEO Fundi Sithebe also referred to the huge grooms bonus for the big race on November 25.
“The Summer Cup is the big one on the highveld horse racing calendar and with the fantastic support of Betway we are really upping the ante this year, with record stakes of R5m for this prestigious race.
“For owners and trainers there is now an even bigger incentive to enter the country’s leading thoroughbreds and to reign at the Summer Cup and for jockeys and grooms there is the prestige of winning one of SA horseracing’s big three major races.

Amid all this happiness for grooms, one question arises. Are others who play roles in the sport such as handlers, tote tellers and catering staff feeling left out? It has to be a possibility.