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«The Sport of Thoroughbred Horseracing Response to the Gambling Review Commission’s report The Sport of Thoroughbred Horseracing and the commercial ...»

P.O. Box 827, Germiston, 1400 Tel: +27 (011)323 5700 Fax: +27 (011) 323 5788 / 99 E-mail: enquiries@tba.co.za

The Sport of Thoroughbred Horseracing

Response to the Gambling Review Commission’s report

The Sport of Thoroughbred Horseracing and the commercial breeding of Thoroughbred

Horses is unique.

Unique in the sense that the Sport of Thoroughbred Horseracing is, unlike any other sport

funded by gambling revenue, and unique in the sense that the main participant in these

events “the horse” starts life by being born on a farm. At that stage of life, he is clearly a product of agriculture.

The sport of horseracing and breeding has a long and rich history in South Africa. The importation of horses began shortly after 1652; however, it was not until 1792 that the first horses deemed Thoroughbreds were imported.

By 1792, a thriving export market had already begun with one stallion and three mares being sent to Sydney with the First Fleet in 1788, another 41 in 1795 and 15 more before 1800. South Africa thus lays claim to the origin of the Australasian thoroughbred!

The value chain of the sport of horseracing and the breeding of thoroughbreds casts a wide net over many facets of our society. Including farm workers; farriers; veterinarians; equine dentists; equine transport services; equine insurance agents; bloodstock agents; racehorse trainers; grooms as well as the many people employed by the operators and the National Horseracing Authority to operate and regulate racing and gambling. At all levels, it is an extremely labour intensive business. The recent Economic Impact Study instigated by Racing South Africa, shows that whilst the casino industry employs 0.289 people per each million rand of gross gaming revenue (GGR), the Sport of Thoroughbred Horseracing and the Breeding industry employs 6.77 people per each million rand of GGR. This therefore makes the sport of thoroughbred horseracing and the breeding industry twenty three times more labour intensive than the casino industry per each rand of GGR.

Page | 1 Thoroughbred Breeders Association of South Africa The Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA) was founded in 1921 and represents all breeders of thoroughbred horses in South Africa.

The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of South Africa is an animal breed society registered in terms of the Animal Improvement Act of 1998.

The main objectives of the TBA are  To safeguard and advance the common interest of all thoroughbred breeders  To promote and encourage the breeding and generic improvement of thoroughbred horses  To promote, organise, hold and conduct sales of thoroughbred horses to the horse racing industry for the benefit of its members (breeders) Currently there are 193 registered thoroughbred stud farms in South Africa and 509 registered breeders. The majority of breeders do not own their own stud farms, but rather board their horses on the larger commercial stud farms.

At any given time there are approximately 13,500 thoroughbred horses boarding on South Africa’s thoroughbred stud farms.

The thoroughbred breeding industry contributes R368 million to the GDP. The thoroughbred breeding sector is the most labour intensive aspect of the sport of thoroughbred horseracing, and while the sport as a whole employs 6.77 people per each million rand of GGR, the breeding industry if viewed as a standalone entity sustains 12.8 jobs per each million rand of GGR.

The thoroughbred breeding industry also attracts significant foreign investment into South Africa each year. The current annual figure spent by foreigners on purchasing and training South African thoroughbred horses, is in excess of R200 million. This figure excludes horses that are initially purchased by South Africans and subsequently sold to foreigners whilst these horses are in training or after they have finished their racing career and are then purchased for breeding purposes.

In addition, the economic impact of what can collectively termed the non-racing sport horse community must also not be forgotten. The majority of these sports horses are in fact thoroughbreds that were bred on thoroughbred studs and for one reason or another either retired from racing, or never embarked on a racing career. It is estimated that this section of the equine community sustains an additional 100,000 jobs.

–  –  –

Challenges faced by the Sport of Thoroughbred Horseracing and


There are a multitude of challenges currently facing the sport at all levels, from the breeding of thoroughbred horses to the subsequent racing and export of thoroughbred horses from our shores.

The Sport of Thoroughbred Horseracing finds itself under serious assault from other forms of entertainment and gambling. However, the uniqueness of this sport is that this decline directly affects the job sustainability in the breeding industry. All of these jobs are in rural areas that can least afford a reduction in employment.

The breeding community is making progress in attracting ever-increasing numbers of foreign buyers into the South African market place. This success is however greatly hindered by the current restrictive export protocols placed on South Africa due to African Horse Sickness.

Whilst the industry is working to resolve these issues, foreign investors have an option of racing their horses in South Africa. Normally this would be seen as an added boon to the country. However, the current financial situation faced by the racehorse owner in South Africa is one of despair.

The cost of horseracing in South Africa, annually is R574 million over and above the available prize money. Two countries whose racing models are looked upon as the ideal are Singapore and Hong Kong. Prize money in these countries covers 139% and 113% of the cost of ownership respectively. Both of these racing jurisdictions operate without bookmakers.

Many of these problems are caused by the current gaming legislative restrictions, which thereby negatively affect the operators of the sports main funding mechanism, the gambling.

All of South Africa’s racecourses are currently underutilised and permission needs to be given for these to become multipurpose gaming destinations.

It is financially impossible for the sport and therefore the breeding industry to sustain itself, let alone grow in the current legislative environment.

The current environment in which the sport finds itself has led to a 51% decline in registered breeders and the accompanying job losses, in the ten-year period from 1998 to 2008.

–  –  –

Transformation Many individual thoroughbred studs have embarked on transformation and empowerment programmes of their own accord. In addition, the thoroughbred breeding community as a collective has embraced transformation in the form of the Grooms Co-Operatives. In 2010 after a number of years of successfully providing grooms education and training on the farms, the thoroughbred breeders in conjunction with the dti and Racing South Africa launched the Grooms Co-Operatives. This is a grass roots empowerment initiative. In 2010 ten co-ops were formed among the grooms. In 2011 a further 20 are in the process of being formed.

This initiative enables the thoroughbred stud grooms to participate in the business of breeding, raising and selling thoroughbred horses through a process of inclusion. There is also a structured mentorship course in place to develop the skills needed to ensure these businesses are successful on a long-term basis.

In 2010 a number of the co-operative members participated in an international marketing mission hosted by Racing South Africa to the United Kingdom.

The 2010 National Yearling Sales also saw the highlight of the Riverside Co-Op selling a horse purchased for R200,000.00 as a foal and raised by the Co-Op being bought by foreign investors for R1.4 million.

The thoroughbred breeding industry is committed to continuing the transformation and capacity building process.

–  –  –

The TBA members rely on the purchasing of thoroughbred horses by racehorse owners for survival.

The Commission’s report states on page 11 of the Executive Summary states:

Betting “Horseracing is a well-established and reasonably well-managed industry in South Africa.

Although it is clearly facing major challenges, it appears set to ride out the economic downturn as well as declining on-course and off-course betting on horseracing. Horseracing is a major employer in South Africa, and for this reason alone, it is hoped that the industry prospers. In order to survive, the horseracing industry has to modernise itself and become more attractive to new, especially younger, punters. This requires a combination of two things: modernising existing venues and race formats, and developing new business models more closely integrated with other forms of gambling. Both of these changes are in line with world trends.” The TBA agrees with the Commission that horseracing must modernise, develop new business models, and become more closely integrated with other forms of gambling.

However as previously stated the current legislative environment simply does not allow horseracing to accomplish any of these suggestions.

The Commission states on pages 18 and 19:

“Betting The horseracing sector is a declining sector, which is struggling to modernize and transform itself. The current ownership and funding arrangements do not provide sufficient impetus for modernization. Furthermore, the sector seems constrained in its ability to make commercial decisions by its licensing conditions. The Commission therefore offers the following recommendations:” 1. “Market forces should be allowed to dictate the number and location of tracks, as well as the number of races. Consideration should be given to separating the ownership of the tracks and the tote. The tracks could be funded through a combination of a levy on the gambling tote, bookmakers and online betting operators, as well as commercial rights, such as broadcasting rights for races.” 2. “The current funding models for the industry should be reviewed to ensure that the tax rates and levies paid to the industry are standardised across the board to create a level field.” 3. “The horseracing industry should be enabled to integrate its operations with other forms of gaming, especially slots.”

–  –  –

As previously stated the TBA supports the Commission’s view that the sector is constrained from making commercial decisions by the current licensing conditions.

The TBA further agrees that market forces should be allowed to dictate the number and location of tracks. However the TBA does not support the recommendation that consideration be given to the separation of the ownership of the tracks and the tote.

In racing jurisdictions where bookmakers are illegal, the sport of thoroughbred horseracing flourishes. In such a situation, it is possible to separate the tote from the tracks. The UK is interesting in that they have separated the tracks from the tote and this model has led to a massive decline in the sport.

On the issue of broadcasting rights on races, the TBA is of the view that South Africa’s racing operators should be allowed to charge market related prices for their IP and broadcasting rights.

The TBA supports the Commission’s view that horseracing should be enabled to integrate its operations with other forms of gambling. This would enable the tracks to become multipurpose destinations as previously discussed in this document.

The TBA supports the National Horseracing Authority being given statutory powers to regulate the sport. The TBA further wishes to point out that in its view the bookmakers must be required to contribute their proportionate share to the funding of the regulation of the sport.

The TBA supports the view that a more in depth study of horseracing needs to take place.

This study must take into consideration the full value chain of the sport of thoroughbred horseracing and the breeding industry. Consideration also needs to be given to the models in place in other racing jurisdictions around the world where racing flourishes. Much can be learned from the models currently in place in Singapore, Hong Kong, France, and Japan.

Page | 6Conclusion

The TBA is of the view that the situation in which the sport of thoroughbred horse racing currently finds itself is dire. Without immediate government intervention, the sport may not survive. Given the fact that the sport is such a large employer, this is surely unacceptable situation for all parties. Whilst the TBA is cognisant of the fact that legislative change takes time, the sport needs assistance now.

In the Western Cape, racing is currently not viable and the sport needs assistance. Shortterm tax relief for the sport is imperative until long-term solutions are found.

The TBA would like to request the opportunity to speak before the Portfolio Committee in conjunction with Racing South Africa to present the entire value chain of the sport of thoroughbred horseracing and the breeding industry. The committee must consider the massive negative economic impact on rural South Africa, if the sports current funding crisis is not immediately addressed.

Adrian Todd adrian@itraini.co.za 0769172784

Page | 7

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