Gold Circle: Barrier Trials Approved And Increased Stakes

Start. Image: Candiese Marnewick
Start. Image: Candiese Marnewick

Gold Circle will be staging official barrier trials for unraced horses from as soon as the first week of November 2017, reports. The trials will be held at the Kwazulu-Natal racetracks prior to the start of race meetings.

KZN Trainer and Gold Circle board director Paul Lafferty, who was instrumental in seeing through the long-awaited trials, told Turf Talk this morning: “We had an AGM yesterday and barrier trials were approved by CEO Michel Nairac. It carries the unanimous support of trainers. The vote was 100-nil!”


The trials will be held over 1000m on the racetracks proper (at weight-for-age in case of mixed ages), with full control from stipendiary stewards, and with official race videos produced for every trial. All unraced horses destined to make their debuts in KZN will be subject to being trialled in their racing silks before they can compete in a race.

Trail runners must be extended (fully ridden out), but whips won’t be necessary. Race results with run-ons and times will be made available so that punters can have access to all the information they require.

Lafferty commented: “There are many advantages to barrier trials and the most important of all is that it will go a long way to restoring public confidence in racing. There is a perception that racing is crooked. Certain trainers refuse to talk about their unraced runners and when they win, punters believe they were placed at a disadvantage, that wool was pulled over their eyes or that vital info was withheld on purpose.

“Perception is reality. We want to eliminate the perception of unfairness so that the people who wager money on races can be assured that they are on an equal footing, they have all the necessary information at hand before they put their cash down.

“There are trainers who withhold information on their runners to plan so-called ‘betting coups’. I said to them yesterday, ‘How many coups have any of you actually pulled off? I don’t see any helicopters parked at your stables. Forget the betting coups, those days are over. We need new owners in the game!

“There will be teething problems and there will be incidents where actual race results won’t reflect the results of the trials, but the trials will establish form patterns for stables which punters will be able to follow with reliable results. They will be able to see which stables bring their horses to hand faster or slower compared to others, and so on. The main issue, however, remains the aspect of public confidence. The betting public wishes to see that the operator is doing everything it can to help them win!”

Lafferty also said that stakes will be increased for races in Gold Circle country, planned for October, November latest.

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