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Restricted Racing under the spotlight

THE EFFECT OF RESTRICTED RACES ON THE NATIONAL STATISTICS
 
Restricted race results will significantly distort the results of races and should not be  included in ANY of the championship logs for Breeders, Sires, Owners or Trainers 
 
These restricted races are a clever marketing ploy and must remain just that: an inducement to a sale and a good promo for racing.
 
Nowadays buyers are offered restricted races worth R3.5m, and at least three R2m events to which a US$1m race will soon be added. Buyers at these special sales will compete for stakes of over R20m in 5 races. All of these events are serialised with cross-qualification simply by going through a sale ring where one sale graduate could possibly win more than one of the events and maybe even all of them in one season. I can imagine how any winning trainer, breeder, sire and owner might find themselves crowned national champion on the strength of those wins. All of the national logs are vulnerable to gross distortion.  
 
Our racing program has highly competitive Gr1 races that are run for far lower stakes than the restricted races. Winners of these restricted races seldom, if ever, graduate to Gr1 level. The effect of allowing the results of those non-competitive “races” into the record as a measure of quality makes a mockery of our awards. The Equus formula needs attention anyway – who knows how they will write a formula to exclude the connections of these events from being crowned champion.
 This is best  illustrated by how ludicrous our stats will look by using the Owners log below.
 
 If the NHRA allowed a winner of two of the new sales promotional races to be added into the stats – a winner of those two races could conceivably be crowned Owner Of The Year by virtue of just one runner. Compare last season’s leading owner whose runners amassed R15.1m in 1078 races. We saw two partnerships listed at 7th and 8th position on the log through the ownership of real champions; Legislate and Yorker who won 3 Gr1 races apiece. How would we justify looking at the log and finding the 2nd leading owner with 2 runs, 2 wins and R9m to his credit?
 
Name Runs Wins Win % 2nd 3rd Other Place % Win Stakes Total Stakes
Mrs I Jooste & Mr M J Jooste 1078 146 13 125 89 196 51 9732500 15141200
Mr A L A Crabbia 854 103 12 88 76 137 47 4901250 7118888
Mr C J H Van Niekerk 437 67 15 54 43 64 52 3776562 5929838
Wilgerbosdrift (Pty) Ltd (Nom: Mrs M Slack) 250 37 14 36 35 37 58 3474200 5247450
Mr St John D Gray 468 40 8 57 53 76 48 2273812 3952288
Mrs S Plattner 490 52 10 53 47 98 51 2341875 3816425
Mr W J C Mitchell, Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert) and Newbury Racing (Pty) Ltd (Nom: Mr D E Evans) 3 3 100 0 0 0 100 3718750 3718750
Messrs B Kantor, M J Jooste & F E J Lewis & Mrs I Jooste 7 3 42 1 1 1 85 3025000 3640000

It’s equally absurd that an otherwise unsuccessful trainer might become national champion trainer by fluking a horse th
at can win a series of restricted races. It would make a mockery of the hard work done by the chaps that support our industry with hundreds of top class runners throughout the year. Imagine Mike de Kock, Justin Snaith, Sean Tarry, Mike Bass or Dennis Drier having a bumper year winning the July and the Met and a few other Gr1 races and losing the championship to someone who got clever enough to find a horse at the Ready To Run sale that can do what the organisers aim to achieve; win a series of the huge bonus stakes on offer. Do we really want the winner of a series of restricted races to be crowned Horse Of The Year?
 
What if anyone bought a bunch of the best youngsters at the $1m sale and entered them on all of the Bonus Stake sales and found a horse that could win all of the added stakes. Even if he never won a listed race he’d go on record as the highest earner in the history of SA.
 
We all know that restricted races can be manipulated by reoffering a suitable candidate at all of the “bonus sales” and buying them as qualifying candidates. We have already seen horses being reoffered and bought back for this purpose. Official acknowledgement of this type of practice could lead to all sorts of manipulation. Imagine that I find a rich investor from the East who fancies his stallion’s name in highlights. We conspire to set up a race for progeny of that sire (or any group of sires) the value of which would make the sire an overnight “champion” – how would the NHRA stop that from happening? It’s not as preposterous as it sounds.
 
Anti-competitive practice is poison to the integrity of our industry, especially in a business like ours where the main aim, beyond profit, has always been the pursuit of excellence beyond cost. We must all support free enterprise in racing and races restricted to sales or specific events are a fait-accompli but as restricted events they must not distort the outcome of championships and accurate and open record keeping.
 
I know all too well how restricted races can distort stallion logs. Some years ago Jallad lost the sire championship by a mere R50,000 because of an end of season addition of a R250,000 low division “Challenge Race” that distorted the stats in the last weekend of the season. Including these restricted events could mean that anyone could buy a result. 
 
In USA they used the term (R) to mark restricted races and they were not included in stats. But in USA there is no restricted race run for more money than their Gr1 races. Canadian racing is considered backward because many of their big races are restricted to Canadian horses to protect their industry from being raided by USA runners. At least their races are restricted to ALL Canadian horses. Ours are restricted to a small percentage of horses sold at a particular sale.
 
If the NHRA are bullied into allowing restricted results into statistics I assure you that a new set of statitics will be kept for posterity. The purist campaign won’t end there either. We may even see alternate awards ceremonies etc.
 

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