GOLD Circle Chief Operating Officer Graeme Hawkins has called on the South African Racing Industry to step up to the plate by working together on a national basis. Hawkins, interviewed by James Goodman on the popular magazine programme Winning Ways, said that urgent collective action was needed to ensure that horseracing “survives beyond our watch”.
Hawkins discussed several other issues concerning Gold Circle and the industry and said that while 2010 has been a tough year for racing as a whole and the KZN Operator in particular, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
He said that changes were imminent in Gold Circle country and stressed that the company assets will have to be rationalized to ensure sustainability and growth.
“One thing everyone must accept as truth is that we cannot stay as we are. Gold Circle needs to become more liquid and our members need to shift from the old club-mindset to a business-oriented mindset. In racing, especially, emotions can override common business sense.”
He pointed to “strong remedial action” already taken by Board directors John Bescoby, Moga Pillay and Vidrik Thurling, to relieve cash flow problems. As a result of their efforts stakes, operating costs and salaries in the Gold Circle regions had been covered over the last two years.
The Gold Circle Board has prepared a “5-year Strategic Plan” to take the company forward and Hawkins hoped that GC members would embrace the suggestions soon to come under scrutiny.
The Gold Circle AGM has been moved to January 31, two days after the J&B Met. New directors will be elected and fresh ballot papers have been sent out to members.
“It is our aim and desire to work together in order to reposition, model and shape Gold Circle going forward and there are many options that will present themselves. The Board cannot take decisions on its own, we need the support of our members.”
Hawkins suggested that “sharp minds” would be needed to assist the Board in focusing on business principles and opportunities and that there was a possibility of “outsourcing expertise” outside of traditional racing circles to bolster Gold Circle’s ranks so that the right decisions can be made.
PGE Enterprises, the joint venture between Phumelela and Gold Circle, had made remarkable progress recently and excellent “repair work” had been done ather the loss of the Racing UK contract last year.
Gold Circle planned to market the successful Soccer bets aggressively because they had cut through plenty of red tape and are now positioned to take a slice of the action generated by this lucrative market and other sports bets.
Hawkins commented: “All obstacles have to be cleared so that we can generate turnovers by marketing all products that will ultimately benefit racing. Our biggest challenge, aside from the economy, is to bring the regulators, the National and Regional Gambling Boards, to understand our sport and our objectives and at the same time for the different boards to agree with each other.”
Hawkins said that while the ‘Open Bet’ has had a negative effect on tote turnovers, totalisators all over the world were feeling pressure in the face of growing bookmaking concerns. “We don’t want to be at war with bookmakers, we’d like to come to agreements that are beneficial for racing. We must not allow our differences to make us victims at the expense of the sport we purport to love.”
Asked for his Christmas Wish, Hawkins said: “I wish for us to make tough decisions so that we can face the future ahead. The future belongs to those who shape it. We must pull in the same direction. We face monumental challenges.” – racingweb.co.za