James Goodman and Paul Lafferty are two of the most engaging and entertaining characters in South African racing.
Their double-act, with its jokey, blokey banter, reminds old-timers of the fun and games of the glory days of the sport during the 1960s and 1970s.
It was perhaps inevitable that the two Durban-based trainers who moonlighted as TV presenters would team up for a talk show. It was named Winning Ways, was recorded in the Gold Circle studio at Greyville and aired once a week on DStv’s channel 239 Tellytrack.
The production has never been particularly slick or professional-looking, – with Laff and James not always on cue – but it has built a solid following among die-hard racing fans hungry for news and gossip about their game. Perhaps it’s precisely the lack of polish that appeals, with amiable, barroom-type interaction mirroring on-course chatter of punters on a race day.
Guests invited onto the show have certainly stirred interest, with opinions voiced revving up the racing world from time to time. It might be master trainer Mike de Kock discussing controversy over selection the Durban July field, or it might be avid punter and sometime owner Robbie Martin relating his beer-drinking feats (in this week’s edition – catch it on YouTube).
Gold Circle bosses such as Graeme Hawkins are regularly quizzed about current burning issues, while characters like trainer Dennis Bosch and former jockey Garth Puller bring their forthrightness and anecdote-telling prowess to the table.
As of this month, Winning Ways is no longer being carried on Tellytrack. Reasons for this are unclear, but, buoyed by loud support from regular viewers, the indefatigable Goodman and Lafferty have migrated their show to YouTube and are adding extras such as podcasts and daily racing previews.
The two men are both cancer survivors, so know all about fighting against the odds and – given the growing influence of internet streaming in the broadcast and publishing sphere – it would be little surprise if they continued to prosper.
They are looking for new sponsors and for subscribers to the new platform.
Goodman has retired from training and appears full of zest for his expanded media role, while Lafferty – a one-time professional footballer with Durban City – still campaigns a sizeable string of horses out of Summerveld and retains his inimitable wit.
Horse racing’s domain has shrunk over the decades, so its media presence and diversity has declined; yet Winning Ways has remained a torchbearer for independence and a valuable variety of opinion.
Anyone with the good of racing at heart will be wishing Laff and James well in their brave new online world.
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