Time to get the progress train on track

 

Happy New Year to all readers of Public Opinion.  Its entrance into the Jamaican media landscape was THE breath of fresh air for 2017.

It’s time for reflection and goal-setting for the next 12 months, so I hope new promoter SVREL is sitting down with Government and working out a formula, based on experience since taking over, to ensure the long-term progress of the local horse racing industry.

We must get the progress train on track.  Success is unlikely to happen without a positive bottom line, so here are some of the topics that should be on the SVREL/Government discussion table:

  1. A five-year moratorium on pool betting duty;
  2. A direct contribution to purses by all licensed bookmakers based on their 2017 gross sales (NOT gross profits);
  3. An incentive to bookies making their own odds (and an acknowledgement of justice) by abolishing all “rights fees” for those bookies, save for a token up-front annual payment for the use of the promoter’s published race programme;
  4. An export tax on any native-bred horse removed from Jamaica to race elsewhere;
  5. An emphasis by the promoter on modern marketing methods, including on social media, and a conscious policy shift towards online sales;
  6. A reduction of
  • SVREL’s percentage deduction from all pools;
  • percentage bonuses to all holders of occupational permits so that owners can retain a larger share of purses;
  1. Tax credits to sponsors of racing based on levels of sponsorships

Of course, this list isn’t exclusive as there are many other urgent matters such as security, infrastructure, and regulation.  Government can assist by speeding up a real merger of the three regulatory bodies and appointing people of expertise on the new single regulator. Regulators MUST understand they are facilitators, monitors and enforcers of anti-corruption rules, NOT obstructionists.

Jamaica’s gravely ill bookmaking industry needs an urgent lifeline.  The “closure” of several betting shops subsequent to SVREL’s takeover of the racetrack (in response to a heavy-handed approach to “rights fees” re-negotiation) created new avenues for illegal betting and consequential reduction in government revenues as “independent” bookies terminated appointments of former agents, but betting infrastructure remained in shops.

DEPARTMENTS:

  1. Clocked-In

It’s time for our regular review of local performances based on REAL times.

Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (effect of track conditions on official times to produce “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” = fast track; “plus” = slow track (e.g. -2 = fast by 2/5ths second). Variants beside individual horses = difference between its official time and grade standard.

Friday November 24’s “Clocked-in” horses included Diligent, about which I wrote “Diligent (-7) beat a deep field (Race 4; 4yonw3; 1400m; TV-2) by 1 3/4l in 1:26.3. His CT (1:27.0) is just a tick faster than nw3/OT”. Instead, he was entered in a newly created grade ($750,000 claimers — really a new name for Overnight Allowance horses yet to win in that grade) and ran a creditable 3rd. on New Year’s Day, however, he was put in 4yonw3 against a howling odds-on favourite (A.P.I), suspect at 1300m, and duly obliged at 5/2. Yum, yum!

It’s been three weeks since we were last together:

December 30, 2017 [TV (Rd) -0.2/200m (Races 1-5); -0.8/200m (Races 6-10; sloppy) {str +2 (Lady V) -4 (rest)]

Concur (-7) was the day’s surprise (Race 2; 4yonw2; 1400m; TV -1) tearaway leader; given a breather over 600m out; then drawing off again final 400m to win by 8l in 1:27.2 (as on SVREL’s website; “official” programme, Track and Pools, subsequently reported a winning time of 1:29.2).  His CT (1:27.3) is 4 lengths better than $450,000 claiming standard so he’s not finished winning. A caution: Concur seems to need to dominate his races.

January 1, 2018 (TV -0.4 per 200m)

Roses in Bloom (-11) won a strongly contested race (Race 5; 4yonw2; 1600m; TV-3) by 2 1/4l from Dada’s Nala/Rakshi (-9) who were separated by a neck.  The winner’s CT (1:41.3) is 4 lengths faster than nw3 so she can win again. The 2nd/3rd (CT 1:42.0) is 6l better than this grade so compensation awaits both. Rakshi is probably best at this trip or slightly shorter while Dada’s Naka should do even better around two turns.

Storm (-6) scraped home by a SH from Daddy’s Dilemma (-6) with Ana Lisa (-4), 3rd (Race 6; 3yomdncond; 1500m; TV -3). The winner’s CT (1:35.1) needs improvement to beat nw2 but equals the $450,000 claiming standard. The two to take out of this race are Daddy’s Dilemma (CT 3 lengths better than maiden special weight) and Anna Lisa (CT 4 lengths better than maiden condition) who can each soon be found small races.

A Vessel of Love (-10) beat prince Kamali (-9) with Kunama/Cue Three (-7) 3rd/4th (Race 10; 5yonw2; 1300m; TV -3) in a race to treat with some caution regarding individual variants as these were 4yonw2 (standard over 2 seconds faster) a day earlier. So the winner’s CT (1:23.2) won’t take her far as the $180,000 claiming standard is 1:23.0 but the 2nd (CT 1:23.4) is a full second faster than this grade and the 3rd/4th (CT 1:24.1) 3/5ths of a second faster so all placed horses can recoup losses.

January 6, 2016 [TV -0.2 per 200m (Rd); -7 (str)]

Fashionista (-14) stepped up significantly on her debut run to humble a decent yardstick by 7 ½ lengths (R2; 3yomsw; 1100m; TV -1) in 1:05.4! Her CT (1:06.0) is two full seconds faster than the nw2 standard and a second faster than nw3. The Overnight Allowance standard is 1:06.1 so this is a sprinter to follow!

Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)

The NFL is fully into play-offs mode.

On the NFC side, Number One seed Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) rather backed into the playoffs (having lost first string QB Carson Wentz to a season-ending injury in Week 14) including losing their last game to the Cowboys.  This makes them favourites without value who may exit the scene as soon as this weekend.

My pre-season pick to win the Superbowl, the Minnesota Vikings (13-3), had a charmed season despite also losing their franchise QB (again) but, in Case Keenum, the Vikes seemed to find another  Tom Brady/Drew Bledsoe scenario and are poised to go all the way.

On the AFC side, the Patriots already sealed yet another Number One seed but are likely to face their strongest challenge, not from second seeded Steelers but from my sleeper team, the Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6), whose stifling defence could be the “X” factor after a long season.  Take the Jags to meet the Vikes in Minnesota at the Big Show with the Minnesota Vikings to prevail and Case Keenum to be Super Bowl MVP.

In this weekend’s Divisional Play-off games, you should expect the Atlanta Falcons, on a mission to wipe the egg stuck on their faces since their embarrassing choke in last year’s Super Bowl, to defeat the Eagles by a touchdown. But the weekend’s best bet is to back the Jacksonville Jaguars to eliminate the Steelers in an intense low-scoring, dog fight in Pittsburgh.

Finally, it isn’t often a Notebook Horse is repeated in these columns but the following English Racing notebook horse, who appeared in November 10’s edition, is worth a reminder:

Copain de Classe [5 b.g. Enrique – Toque Rouge (Loup Solitaire)] won two of his four starts over hurdles 2016/17, but looks a potentially smart recruit to the novice chasing ranks and did nothing wrong finishing 6l 3rd to Benatar as 11/4 favourite on chasing debut over 19f (good) at Ascot on November 4 where he moved best for much of the race. However, no sooner had he got to the front he started to look vulnerable and evidently just needed it. He’s been treated with kid gloves until now and seems likely to prove best around 2 miles on good or faster ground. One to be on next time!”

Copain de Classe hasn’t raced since, but was entered and withdrawn late for a 2m Novices Limited Handicap Chase at Ludlow on January 3. He was withdrawn because the ground was declared soft (heavy in places).  Take it from your old friend, Touty, Paul Nicholls is pampering this one until getting his preferred ground and it’ll pay to remember him. Spring may be late this year but it’ll come, as will a win or three for Copain de Classe, one to have in your Cheltenham portfolio.

Good Luck!

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