Soma has a change of heart

PUBLISHED: 11 June 2019

joe soma

Joe Soma, annoyed that his pre-race comment about Left Hook was omitted from the list of trainers’ comments published by Computaform last week, has urged his fellow-trainers to help punters by providing sensible pre-race information.

Soma said: “I have not been giving comments myself, but I decided recently to give punters access to as much info as possible. Punters are getting bored, they are losing interest and we need to do everything we can to keep them in the game.”

joe soma
Joe Soma

Soma had said about Left Hook: “Not today boys. But watch this horse, he can get us out of it in the future!” A comment that somehow didn’t find its way into Computaform.

“I gave it to the Racing Bureau and I thought I’d been censored for some reason.” Danie Toerien, Editor-in-Chief at Phumelela, who publishes Computaform, said that Soma’s comment must have gone missing somewhere along the line. “I am not sure what happened but there was nothing wrong with Joe’s comment. We encourage comments by trainers and if they happen to offer something extra, in an unusual note like this, even better.

“We will accept any comments within all reasonable publishing limits, because punters thrive on information. The more they have, the better. Punters hate going in ‘blind’. If there are five first-timers in a race with no comments available, what must they do? They may as well play the Lotto. We’d like trainers to type in their comments themselves on the Bureau system to prevent info from getting lost.”

Soma added: “We need to speak to the punter in his language, to spruce up our presentation of information on television and in print. You know, punters get tired of the same old, same old, same old. We need to find new angles in our written copy and our television presentations to keep the betting public interested. “I said, for example, ‘Left Hook can get us out of it in the future’. I think this is something the punter understands better than the standard comment, ‘will need the run’, which is something that makes them pull their hair out!

“Left Hook is a horse with nice form, many may fancy him on paper, but he’s had a colic operation and he’s recovered from injury, so he’s an unlikely winner. If he sticks his head into the frame for fourth, fantastic, but I’ve given he punter the info I believe to be as true and valuable as possible.

“I think trainers are wary of being proved wrong, or putting their owners in the middle, but there is a way of commenting that will keep everyone happy. We see too many ‘will need the run’ horses that fly up to win and nothing annoys a punter more than thinking he has been lied to. Worse still is ‘no comment’, of which I was guilty of but I look at things in a different way now.”

“When you’ve had any horse in your stable for a while, you have a fair idea of what it’s worth, what its ability is. I’m suggesting that trainers add just a bit extra, like saying, ‘needs the run but not without place prospects in a weak field’… that says so much more and gives the bettor a chance. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong, stiff. Try again next time. Punters appreciate honesty more than shots in the dark or nonsensical drivel.”

Soma concluded: “The days of the big coup are gone. The market establishes the runners in race fairly, reflects what’s going on. You can maybe get R10,000 of a horse, or a bit more, but the big money is no longer there to pull off massive betting coups. We must look after the punters we have left, give them the info to win. It will benefit all of us.”

– turf talk