HORSERACING and tote betting operator Phumelela, the Racing Association (the organisation responsible for looking after the interests of owners in Phumelela regions) and the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust are contributing R4 million towards offsetting a R10-million shortfall in prize money for races at the five Phumelela racecourses in the 2010-11 racing season.
Prize money in Phumelela regions each season is determined by a formula in terms of which a percentage of total tote betting turnover in the previous term goes to the stake pool. Unfortunately, turnover in 2009-10 was three percent down on the previous season, a significantly better outcome than in many other racing countries, and that has resulted in the current deficit.
Instead of cutting stakes across the board to eliminate the shortfall, the Racing Association (RA) and Phumelela, in conjunction with the Racing Trust, investigated various other options to deal with the deficit.
The R4-million contribution from them together with a natural saving of about R1.5 million from race meetings abandoned because of rain (a loss of one meeting per region has been budgeted) and a small saving from “B Grade” meetings on the Highveld (stakes all races R50,000) leaves a deficit of some R4.3 million and the following measures will be introduced from 1 January 2011 to make up the shortfall:
* A two-tier stake system will be implemented. Normal (existing) stakes will be paid from August to April, but prize money of all turf races at Turffontein and the Vaal in May, June and July (the “off-season”) will be 10% lower. This will not apply to races on sand.
* Entry fees for minor and feature races are to be increased, as well as declaration fees for feature events, while declaration fees for minor races will be introduced. Entry and declaration fees for feature races will collectively equal one percent of the stake, while entry and declaration fees for minor races will each be 0.1 percent of the average minor-race stake.
In a move not related to the stakes deficit, the prize money for Maiden Plates at Turffontein and the Vaal is to drop from R80,000 to R70,000. This will allow for up to 32 Maiden Plates programmed from January to July to be split into two races when the number of final acceptors warrants creating an extra race.
The RA is doubling the number of races in which it pays bonuses. There will be 38 such races at Turffontein and the Vaal in 2011, each with a R20,000 bonus for the owners if they are RA members. There will be 16 bonus races in Port Elizabeth, each with an additional R15,000 for RA-member owners, and four such races at Flamingo Park each with a R10,000 bonus.