Racing chair delivers case for optimism in future of racing
During Republic Cup Trust Cup prize-giving at Borrowdale racecourse last week, , one of the country’s top racing voices in Zimbabwe’s racing came out saying that support for the sport may be going through tough patch but- like any other sector in the economy – but would definitely ride the storm.
Gary Carter, chairman of Mashonaland Turf Club, the country’s racing authority, made the loud and clear statement that calling for innovation to survive the difficult times and stay the course in racing industry parlance.
“I keep saying to myself it’s not easy for a country like Zimbabwe that has produced a World Cup winner to just let it go like that!,” he said, in reference to the good times early in the new millennium.
It is just over 16 years ago – the year was 2003 – and the great Zimbabwe-bred and Southern Africa’s flag-bearer Ipi Tombi commenced a wave of unprecedented success for South African trainer De Kock. But there is no question that things have gotten much tougher since those glory years when horse used to challenge soccer in spectator attendances.
“And MTC has been on this course since 1954!” he said, informed those new in the sport that racing in this country stretched back to 1895!.
While acknowledging the situation is not the same any more, the MTC chairman pointed to the industry’s high level of tenacity and resilience.
The chair urged industry players to the traditional business model.
“”One way is through shared ownership and syndicates,” he advised, adding that with innovation and creativity, local racing would never collapse.
Carter described as very much welcome the efforts of The Republic Cup Trust in attracting the kind of partnerships and support which attract sponsors for good charity causes and a broader spectator base.
Carter also welcome government business mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business saying the MTC shared the same thinking.\
Carter’s comments were echoed by Kamal Khalfan, trustee of The Republic Cup Trust and Honorary Consul of Oman, who agreed that racing was a resilient and relevant sport that needed everyone’s support.
Khalfan said he hoped the turbulent times would be over soon and save the industry that directly employs over 240 workers with many more down-stream including farmers who supply food for the race animals, police and army as well as other sport s like polo and show jumping.
Once prominently featuring on the front and back pages of sports sections in the national media, it is increasingly rare to find in-depth coverage of the sport beyond The Republic Cup and other heavily sponsored racing events.
“The RCT hopes to continue its original vision although times are tough,” Khalfan said..
“The RCT project was started 22 years ago and continues to grow every year and for a good cause as it supports charity.
And fittingly, it was a sentimental occasion for retiring renowned trainer, Penny Fisher, as she watched her horse Tandava, Deon Sampson atop, gallop to victory ahead of a strong 15-horse field at the 23rd edition of the Republic Cup Trust race at home of racing in the country. Fisher is retiring after a 30-year career with horses.