It would be harsh to judge horse racing in isolation of its environment. South Africa is emerging in to the modern world in many respects, and is a land of extremes between extravagant living and social disorder; the horse racing scene is not dissimilar!
The country has a National Horseracing Authority. Previously known as the Jockey Club of South Africa, it changed its name in a bid to gain some recognition of its regulatory potential. It remains to be seen if a change of name will evoke genuine respect for authority. However, there should be no doubt that better stewardship is a pre-requisite for horse racing development in South Africa. Neither investments nor crowds can be attracted unless the standards of competition are raised and placed on even keel at the same time.
Horse racing is spaced over more than 10 tracks in South Africa. The breeding industry is in a nascent stage. Tote bets are accepted at a number of off-site retail locations, and it is also possible to lay bets on the telephone. However, the sport is far from matured and fully developed, considering the country's generous land resources. Horse racing is relevant in South Africa not just in recreation terms, but also for its economic potential. The sport can yield funds for local development projects, bring in new tourist dollars, and provide new jobs for the people.
The salubrious climate of South Africa makes horse racing possible throughout the year. Most tracks are either based on turf or sand. Investments for better drainage, grandstands, site development, and for horse racing under lights can raise standards of the sport in South Africa. A stable law and order situation will help to attract funds and non-financial global interest as well. We hope that the spirited and capable office bearers of the National Horseracing Authority, and the professional executives in the private corporate sector of the sport, will realize the full potential of horse racing in South Africa.