She who must be Obeyed (SWMBO) recently celebrated her 37th wedding anniversary on the twoth of March (we have the 4th, 5th, 6th etc so why isn’t March 2 the twoth of March?). SWMBO attended “Simply Myrna” where she was introduced to a youthful, talented throwback named Bunny Rose and reacquainted with an old friend Jimmy James of the Vagabonds. A great time was had by all. She forgot the troubles of the world and I postponed seething about injustices being meted out to punters at Caymanas Park.
Before that hallowed day, on February 28, Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) issued a Press Release, riddled with prolixity and including the following:
“The Supreme Ventures Group continues to have a positive impact on the country’s bottom line having paid over 12% more in total fees and taxes to the Government in 2018 than the previous year.
The company’s financials for 2018 displayed an increase in taxes based on a 50% increase in the company’s Total Comprehensive Income for the year. The company generated a record breaking $2.1 Billion in revenues for 2018.
This performance enabled the Group to pay approximately a record $6.9 Billion in total fees and taxes to the government, representing an increase of approximately $800 Million, or over 12% higher than 2017, and $4.8 Billion, or 229% greater than profits.
The boom in revenue was attributed to taking a very strategic and laser target emphasis on its core revenue products that resulted in significant growth in its profits and gross ticket sales amounting to $62 Billion, a 12.3% increase compared to 2017…
The emphasis on revenue initiatives, which resulted in increased ticket sales coupled with a 5.64% operating expense efficiency ratio, had a combined effect that resulted in the 50.3% increase in total comprehensive income for the year, allowing the gaming group to surpass the $2 Billion mark for the first time in the company’s history.
President and CEO of SVL, Ann-Dawn Young Sang said:
‘We focused on driving our key revenue drivers and investing in the build out of the Group’s infrastructure, while also successfully implementing cost savings initiatives. Our financial performance in 2018 reflects our drive, focus and execution of core strategic initiatives such as our expansion into the mobile gaming arena, innovative promotions for our products and the kick-off of our regional expansion plans with our first regional outlet in Guyana under the iBet Supreme brand,’ she said.”
Nice. Obviously that focus didn’t include subsidiary SVREL to whom horse racing promotion was divested in 2016 but still seems to need significant subvention from Government. At Caymanas Park, infrastructural improvement is invisible. Last time we met, I wrote
“Right now the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) is co-sponsor of the [Diamond Mile] to the tune of at least $5 million per annum. This is, in my opinion, an abuse of public funds of Petroscammic proportions. BGLC’s only statutory authority is to “regulate and control the operation of betting and gaming and the conduct of lotteries in the island” [Betting Gaming and Lotteries Act, section 5(1)]. It’s also “to carry out such functions as are assigned to it by…..this Act” or any other Act. No such other function is assigned…. Unless the Minister provides for it in a scheme (Subsidiary legislation) that allows Bookies’ taxes to be so spent there’s no authority to spend taxpayers money on purses. Even under a Ministerial scheme, there’s no authority for the industry’s regulator to sponsor specific races or help private sector corporate marketing. It’s at least unseemly. There’s no authority for the BGLC to unilaterally spend its funds on anything but regulation.”
Did someone notice? Gleaner front page of March 5 (Clarke to Explain $70 Million Allocation To Horse Racing) reported MP Lisa Hanna querying a budgetary allocation of $70 million to horse racing for the next financial year. SEVENTY. MILLION. DOLLARS! Of taxpayers’ money! To a company making record profits!
Nigel Clarke replied “I think we’ll have to refer to the divestment agreement to get an understanding there”
DWL. Don’t worry, Nigel, I’ll help you. Not only does the divestment agreement exclude any sponsorship of SVREL from government it provides exactly the opposite. According to SVL’s 2017 group audited statements:
“The Group has a commitment to develop and modernize the Caymanas Park, which involves the following outlays: … Phase 1 Within two (2) years $200,000,000 Phase 2 Between year three (3) and year (5) $300,000,000 $500,000,000. If the Group fails to implement any milestone by the relevant deadline, the Group shall deposit with CTL the amount allocated for the achievement of said milestone and CTL shall hold the funds in escrow in a commercial bank in Jamaica provided that: (a) If milestone is later achieved or replaced as agreed by the Group and GOJ’s Project Monitoring Committee, the funds together with interest thereon shall be returned to the Group; or (b) If the lease is terminated without the achievement of said or replaced milestone, CTL shall be entitled to retain the funds together with interest thereon.”
SVL is obligated to spend “to develop and modernize the Caymanas Park”. WHY is Government spending a dollar more on horse racing? It gave SVREL the racetrack for a pittance. It granted SVREL an island wide monopoly by law. It’s obvious there’s a connection between that monopoly and SVL’s “record profits”. Is there also a connection between SVREL’s losses and SVL’s record profits? Are taxpayers’ blood, sweat and tears being spent as offerings on an altar of private profits? Are we being asked to “ride a painted pony; let the spinning wheel spin”?
This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
March 2, 2019 [TV-0.4 (Rd) -6 (Kappone); -1 (rest; straight)]
Race 2 (3yonw2/Imported Maidens; 1500m; TV-3) is another KEY RACE!
LEGALITY (-10) confirmed debut promise with an emphatic win up in trip. His CT (1:32.3) is over a second faster than imported nw (?) stakes and 3/5ths second faster than Overnight Allowance standard. He has a bright future.
The second GOD OF LOVE (- 10) catapulted himself into the Guineas picture as his CT (1:33.2) is only 1/5th second slower than Overnight Allowance standard but 2/5ths second faster than 3yonw3 (1 2/5ths seconds faster than nw2). He’s one to follow. The first two are May foals so should improve again in the year’s fourth quarter.
TRICKY ONE (-6’) is also a late foal (April 30) and has taken a while to come to hand but his CT in 3rd (1:34.0’) is 7/10ths second faster than nw2 standard so he can win one of these as can the 4th PHENOM (-6) whose CT (1:34.2) is still 2/5ths second faster than nw2.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
Cheltenham is on for next week so it’s time for a closer look at some of the trainers, jockeys and horses to watch.
Everybody knows Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty are the jockeys to be on these days at Cheltenham but not so obvious are the claims of NICO DE BOINVILLE, now first choice for Cheltenham specialist trainer Nicky Henderson, and Irishman DAVY RUSSELL who shocked punters by winning the Championship at last year’s festival and rides my Gold Cup fancy, PRESENTING PERCY, among a quality book of rides all week
Nico looks likely to have some excellent rides this festival including the choice of Grade 2 winners Angels Breath and Mister Fisher (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle; Tuesday); Grade 1 hurdle winner Santini (RSA; Wednesday) and Verdana Blue (Champion Hurdle; Tuesday).
Among the trainers, Gordon Elliott and Nicky Henderson are obvious but PAUL NICHOLLS has enjoyed a fantastic season and sends his strongest team for years including Clan Des Obeaux (Gold Cup); Quel Destin (JCB Triumph Hurdle; Friday) and Frodon (Ryanair Chase; Thursday).
Finally, a Notebook horse for your Cheltenham portfolio:
URADEL [8yo b.g Kallisto-Unavita (Vettori)] has the option of three of the big handicaps namely the Coral Cup (Wednesday); County Hurdle (Friday) or the Martin Pipe Conditional (Friday) and should be a live contender wherever one he chooses. He has been somewhat below the radar over hurdles despite improving 21 points in handicap rating in only four starts on the flat. He has been difficult to train; had excuses for his failures over sticks; and seems a stayer so maybe the Coral Cup could be his best winning chance.