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Much ado about nothing

Howard Hamilton - HORSE SENSE

I have just returned from a most exciting trip travelling along the coast of Chile and around Cape Horn up to Uruguay and Argentina.

The pleasure of those last three weeks has been dampened by yet another crisis in the racing industry which greeted me on my return to Jamaica.

It seems that there are some among us who are determined to cause mischief in racing. They look for every opportunity to pontificate with half truths and taking things out of context as they appeal to the 'masses' in the tradition of days long gone.

Integrity questioned

The simulcasting of races by Caymanas Track Ltd has been the subject of much discussion. This has been an activity that has contributed more than 50 per cent of the revenue for the past 20 years. Various arrangements have been in place over the years. These arrangements are constantly changing as management seeks to negotiate the best deal for CTL's customers.

The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) has produced a 187-page report questioning the honesty and integrity of the board of directors and management in a manner which has led to the reported removal of the board by the minister responsible.

The CEO resigned some time ago and another senior manager, under severe questioning, suffering from undue mental strain, eventually passed away.

I am satisfied, after reading the report, that the behaviour of the OCG could have been a major contributor to this officer's death.

Reading the report, it became obvious to me that there was a basic misunderstanding by the OCG of the various 'rights' which can be negotiated. CTL owns the intellectual property associated with its activity of promoting races and is at liberty to sell the 'rights' associated with that ownership.

They have been trying for years to sell the 'rights' for live TV broadcast with little success. In fact, the few occasions on which we have had racing live on TV CTL have had to pay to have it done.

Recently, there was another attempt to sell this 'right' and this was noted in the report of the OCG. There is the 'right' to take bets on CTL's product. This right has been abused by a number of people/companies and CTL has been in constant discussion to find some way of resolving this matter.

Then, there is the 'right' which they have for satellite services. The most recent board has been trying to regularise these operations and to maximise the benefits to CTL.

It is my understanding that they were in the final stage of negotiations with the United Bookmakers Association for payment to CTL for the 'right' to receive TV signals on a range of overseas products, along with CTL's products.

The 'right' to take bets on these products was also being negotiated. This would have been a major breakthrough for the local promoting company who have been trying for years to regularise the relationship with the bookmakers. I hope the mischief makers will note the severe damage which they have caused to the increased income stream of CTL and the ability of CTL to pay increased purses.

Level of ignorance

The whole tone of this report reflects a level of ignorance by the contractor general which is only exceeded by his arrogance. In those circumstances, perhaps, my friend Donald Tankoy would still be alive today. My understanding of the current situation with one provider of overseas racing, Phumelela, was that they wished CTL to assist them in their relationship with the bookmakers. CTL were unwilling to take on that responsibility and the provider went elsewhere for the service.

Phumelela advised CTL that they had appointed an agent to co-ordinate their activities in Jamaica and in future payments should be made to that agent at the same rate as was being paid for these services before. For the life of me I can't see what is wrong with that. Now CTL is being told: "CTL should prepare a detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) and/or tender document, when any form of procurement is being undertaken."

What surprises me is that the minister has acted to dismiss the board without giving them the opportunity to rebut this very damning report.

As is his custom the contractor general has sent copies of the report to the the DPP and the attorney general for further action. We wait to see how things unfold.

Howard L. Hamilton, C.D, J.P is a former chairman of Caymanas Track Limited. He is the current president of Thoroughbred Owners' and Breeders' Association. He can be contacted at