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Since taking up the position as chair of Cape Racing, businessperson Greg Bortz has made waves on a par with those that have battered SA’s coastline in recent days.

Bortz’s speech at the Western Cape awards at the beginning of the month raised many eyebrows, but it appeared generally welcomed by racing top brass in his home province and KwaZulu-Natal though whether the enthusiasm stretched to Gauteng is unsure.

Two of the subjects Bortz addressed was that the Equus awards would in future rotate between the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The Oscars have always been held in Los Angeles and there appears no likely move to Miami, but one could argue it means — every three years — that owners and trainers in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal don’t have to travel to Johannesburg.

At the weekend came news of another Bortz initiative — the implementation of a new local rule in the Western Cape.

The new rule has been lodged with the National Racing Bureau (NRB) and became effective from September 18.

The rule reads: “Any horse, which is the subject of a pending or ongoing NHA (National Horseracing Authority) investigation or inquiry at the time of final declarations, shall be precluded from accepting.”

This effectively means that a horse under investigation, or the subject of an inquiry, as notified by the NHA to the NRB, will be blocked for acceptance to race.

The NRB controls the process of producing entries, nominations, declarations and jockey confirmations for the production of race cards countrywide.

Upholding reputation

A Sporting Post website report reads that “straight talk has now been converted to early action” and most in the industry will agree that it is imperative to rid the sport of cheats.

It was reported on the website that Bortz said Cape Racing is “committed to upholding and preserving the reputation of horse racing in our country”.

“We believe that this local condition will contribute meaningfully in this regard.

“Cape Racing will continuously seek new avenues to protect our horses and enhance the sport of horse racing in SA. We will lead by example.”

If you break the rules overseas, the punishment is swift. Only a fortnight ago, the licence of Irish billionaire Luke Comer was suspended for three years and he was fined €840,000 after a dozen of his horses tested positive for anabolic steroids.

Bortz will be pleased that the Sporting Post has, to date, backed his actions. Its report reads, “The current innovative move by Cape Racing endorses the reality that racing operators do in fact have a material role to play, thus effectively making their own contribution to upholding, and enforcing, the integrity of the sport.

“Bortz said recently that as a racing operator and a funder of the sport, he was concerned about integrity, and was committed to ensuring that competition at [Western] Cape racetracks, at the very least. would be conducted in a fair and honest fashion.

“He has declared his intention to see that Cape Racing imposes whatever racing operator conditions they legally can to ensure the integrity of the sport, within the framework allowed by the NHA, and this momentum is clearly now seeing the light of day.”

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