4Racing is pleased to announce its strategy around fixtures and stakes for the 2022 calendar year, which will see 240 fixtures proposed at 4Racing venues, and stakes increased from R186 million in 2021 to R207 million in 2022.
As 4Racing prepares to take over the assets and business of horseracing from Phumelela on 1 December 2021, the strategy around fixtures and stakes will be to develop a seasonal approach to stakes, whereby the minor races in each region will carry an enhanced stakes level in-season as compared to out-of-season.
It is anticipated that 4Racing will assume the management of Kenilworth Racing in due course via a management agreement.
The racing seasons in the three regions have been identified by 4Racing as follows:
- Highveld - 1 November to 30 April
- Western Cape - 1 November to 28 February
- Eastern Cape - 1 August to 31 October
The new racing season dovetails well with the KZN winter season that runs from 1 May to 31 July. The plan is to encourage the best horses in each racing region to follow the seasonal roadshow nationally as far as possible.
The racing calendar and stakes allocation follows earlier communication from the Race Operator with stakeholders about the declining horse populations nationally, and to better align the number of fixtures with the current horse populations in each region.
The following number of fixtures have been scheduled at 4Racing racing venues in 2022:
- Highveld 120
- Western Cape 60
- Eastern Cape 60
It is important to note that the horse population in these areas have reduced as follows:
Horse population by region pre and post COVID:
- Highveld from 2 500 horses to 1 700
- Western Cape from 1 050 horses down to 840
- Eastern Cape only slightly down (positively impacted by the influx of Kimberley trainers to the region)
One also needs to bear in mind that the registered foal population has in the last 10 years declined from 3385 to just on 2100 foals being registered annually.
To achieve the fixtures reduction in the optimum way for betting turnovers, no more double headers (ie two local race meetings on the same day) will be scheduled.
In addition to the anticipated benefit of increased field sizes (and therefore tote betting turnover) in all its regions, the reduced number of races will mean that 4Racing will be able to pay a higher level of stakes per race but at the same time have increased the total annual stakes.
4Racing is proposing a two-and-a-half week break from local racing nationally during the middle of August - a time of year that has historically been challenging from a number of runners perspective on the Highveld, due to the going on the tracks and from a rainfall perspective in the Western Cape.
Along with these climatic challenges, many horses also receive their African horse sickness vaccinations during the month of August.
“These fixture proposals still need to be ratified by the National Fixtures Committee but the large reduction in the thoroughbred horse population is a harsh reality the industry has unfortunately not been able to address. We are aware of the challenges facing the industry and the economy and the difficulty in addressing this critical issue, but we do need to try new approaches to reverse this trend. There is a balance to be struck, but we have to be practical in acknowledging the number of races the current population can support. 4Racing appreciates that there isn’t an overnight fix and we also understand the importance of stakes to owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms and breeders. We therefore commit to finding ways of increasing revenues and income for all horseracing industry participants. As a starting point to sustain the industry we are committing to stakes of R207 million in 2022 and will constantly review our approach going forward, in partnership and consultation with the horseracing industry. We need to look at the data this approach produces and be adaptable but we have to look at ways to turn around the decline,” said 4Racing Chief Operating Officer, Colin Gordon.
Minimum stakes levels for Graded, Listed and Non-Black-Type Races across the three regions will be the same as follows:
- Grade 1 - Open R1,000,000 / F&M R750,000
- Grade 2 - Open R400,000 / F&M R300,000
- Grade 3 - Open R250,000 / F&M R200,000
- Listed and Non-Black Type - Open R175,000 / F&M R150,000
However, many of these pattern races will carry stakes well in excess of these minimums on the back of race sponsorships.
The attached schedule of minor races stakes per region outlines the in and out of season levels.
In line with the commitment to getting the feature race stakes back to pre-COVID levels the total stakes commitment from 4Racing for 2022 across the three regions is R207 million. This compares with the current stakes of R186m for the 2021 calendar year and the estimated R177m the old agreements would have delivered.
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