The Cape’s summer season is drawing to a close with the traditional season closer, the Cape Derby, to be held on 25 February at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth.

This season drew a record number of participants from around the country, breaking field size records not seen in the Cape for many years.

As we approach our winter months, Cape Racing seeks to build on the momentum gathered and is proud to announce continued increases to our prize money levels and further increases to our ever popular “RaceCape” incentive scheme.

In addition, the structure of the Cape’s races over the winter months has been restructured, innovated and simplified.

Excited about the future – Greg Bortz (Pic – Troy Finch)

Background and Review of Last Six Months

Gregory Bortz, the Executive Chairman of Cape Racing, explained: “As we reflect on our first six months at the helm, we are satisfied with the progress we have made. But now is the time to double down, not stand still. The motivation behind these new increases is self-evident. The sizable raising of stakes, coupled with the RaceCape appearance and saddling fee programme, worked exactly as we had hoped. The focal point of our approach is to reward and incentivise owners for supporting our previously economically unsustainable sport, and to right-size the economics for all our other stakeholders, including our employees, grooms, jockeys, trainers, breeders and their staff, farriers, vets and so on and so on. It is our strategy for these incentives to drive ownership, stimulate the breeding industry, increase field sizes, drive betting turnovers, and fuel the sustenance of our industry through the resultant trickle-down economics. Racing in our part of the world was dead. We are using our passionate team, our capital and our innovations to reinvigorate the industry in the Western Cape, which remains so critical to the livelihood of thousands and thousands of people in our province. So now we keep on going and press forward.”

Justin Vermaak – stats tell the story!

Justin Vermaak, Cape Racing’s Racing & Bloodstock Executive, added: “The statistics tell the story. The initiatives of the past six months have led to a monumental positive shift in all our key racing metrics, such as: – average field sizes increased from 9.8 runners per race in January 2022 to 11.5 runners per race in January 2023 , a 16.5% increase – the average field size in the Cape in January 2022 was 2.7% below the national average; in January 2023 it was 16% above the national average – average juvenile runners per race increased from 6.4 in the prior year to 13.7, a staggering increase of 114% – last season a total of 26 raiding horses visited the Cape, versus 101 raiding horses this season, an increase of 288%

Breaking the Cape’s historical pattern of wrapping our 2-year-old horses in cotton wool and not racing them was a key trend we needed to break. The sizeable Juvenile stakes and incentives have clearly done the trick.”

Donovan Everitt – betting on the future!

Donovan Everitt, Cape Racing’s Chief Operating Officer explained further: “The vast improvement in the key racing metrics has had the desired stimulatory impact on our betting streams. Predictably, our improved racing and field sizes has driven up the betting turnover on our racing product. Despite betting on horse racing on the South African Tote being down considerably year over year, we in the Cape have witnessed a double digit increase in the Tote betting volumes on our racing. Similarly, bookmakers in the Cape have seen a spike in their Cape racing betting activity, the by-product of which ultimately flows through to Cape Racing through our share of the punter’s 6% winning tax. We intend to keep this going, by reinvesting all resultant revenue streams back into the industry in the form of further stake increases and RaceCape incentives.

Of great interest and pride are some of the pertinent Tote betting statistics.

For example, the average betting turnover per race on our Cape racing (meaning the bets wagered countrywide on our local Cape racing) averaged R589,000 per race for the six months year to date through the end of January 2023.

This compares to an average betting turnover per race of R440,000 for the 2022 financial year, and R461,000 for the 2021 financial year. This equates to a 34% increase over last year.

We look forward to seeing a continued renaissance of racing in the Western Cape, and we urge owners to come out and support the upcoming Bloodstock South Africa sale to be held at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth at the end of the month, and the subsequent sales after that!”

RaceCape Incentive Increases

From 1 March 2023 until July 31 2023, the RaceCape saddling and appearance fee incentive will be temporarily increased from R2,500 per runner to R3,000 per runner, an increase of 20%. This incentive will be split in the ratio of R2,250 to the owner (up from R2,000), and R750 to the trainer (up from R500).

From 1 March 2023 until July 31 2023, the 10 runner-per-race day limit for trainers will also be temporarily lifted.

Winter Season Programme Overhaul and Stake Levels

Apart from offering unprecedented prize money levels over the winter months, Cape Racing is offering a new look programme. The minor race schedule has been modernised to a more structured “Class” racing system, like that used abroad.

The programme will also be aided by banded stakes races to offer a wider spread where numbers may be needed to increase field sizes. Cape Racing is focusing on rewarding young horses with ability and remains committed to putting on high stake levels for juvenile racing.

Chase Liebenberg captured this Hollywoodbets Kenilworth raceday action

“Restricted Maiden Juveniles” have been added to the programme and will be run for higher stake levels.

These races will be positioned in parts of the programme where the higher class of horses tend to start their careers. The races will continue into next season where “Restricted Maidens” will be put on for three-year-old horses.

This is once again in theme with positioning higher stakes for horses in the early stages of their career, while lowering the stake levels for maiden races as the season progresses and the weaker maidens are left competing in these events. “Class 5” racing will also be introduced.

These races target the lower rated horses of the population.

Although Cape Racing is aware that the initial field sizes of these races will be low due to the lower population in this category, it is a category Cape Racing is committing to growing over time, as owners need to be rewarded for keeping their horses in training and racing in the Cape, as opposed to either retiring them prematurely or moving them to perceived weaker racing centres.

Prize money will remain at levels more synonymous with the summer season racing. In fact, some races have been increased above summer levels to further reinforce certain policies adopted at Cape Racing. This includes promoting stake levels for younger horses.

The new prize money levels are best illustrated alongside last season’s winter season” stakes, as per the table below:

2023 vs 2022

The feature race schedule across the winter programme has also undergone a complete overhaul.

As publicised previously, the World Sports Betting Winter Series races have now been opened to all age groups, with these three races will all be run for increased stakes .

The Gr3 Champagne Stakes has been brought forward to the month of April and is now an open race available to male and female contenders.

Despite the presence of the above feature events, the winter programme has been short of racing opportunities for its group level horses.

Cape Racing has endeavoured to fill these gaps by adding multiple non-black type feature events throughout the programme.

Below is a summary of the “feature” race programme. This does not include the many “A Stakes” races which cater to top level horses as well.

Gregory Bortz added, “It has been a busy six months for us at Cape Racing. We have rebuilt a management team, are in the process of upgrading and improving our training centres, are in the process of repairing and upgrading our racecourses, have launched a sales company, are beginning the process of overhauling our Tote branches, as well as countless other initiatives. But this is a marathon and not a sprint, and want to build a sustainable, progressive platform for the future of our sport in the Western Cape. We look forward to hosting our stakeholders at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth and Hollywoodbets Durbanville over the coming months. We are particularly excited to return to “The Country Course” on March 7th for the running of the Durbanville Cup over 2400m. But first, bring on the Cape Derby!”

Media release by Cape Racing on Friday 3 February 2023.

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