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Kevin Smith

Q & A: Jason Pretorius,

6 September 2001

A new virtual horse racing site has been launched and joins a growing number of sites that have a very niche-oriented service to offer players.

The site,, allows players to buy a virtual horse, train it, feed it and maintain it and then enter it in races against other virtual horses. Bettors can also get into the game by placing a wager on the outcome of a race without owning or training their own horse. The site was introduced just months after a similar site,, was launched as the first of its kind.

IGN conducted an exclusive interview with one of's operators, Jason Pretorius, who spoke not only about the new site, but also about the burgeoning market trend of virtual racing and other activities.

IGN: Everyone knows that Internet sites don't just open up overnight, especially in the gaming world. How long was in development before it was launched?

JP: The site is quite a complex one and provides for a large amount of customer interaction, with the result it took approximately 3 to 4 months to complete.

IGN: It is early, but what kind of response have you gotten from prospective players?

JP: People love it. It is unique in that it allows members an affordable way of owning and managing their own racehorses from the comfort of their own home or office.

The site has been developed to be as life-like as possible and at the same time user friendly so as to appeal to both the ardent horse racing fan and the complete novice.

It's truly loads of fun, whether you are training and racing your horse or taking a punt on the outcome of a race. You can even get together with some colleagues in the office and form a syndicate to assist in building a stable or to share ideas and racing strategies.

IGN: It wouldn't appear that there is a very large market for this kind of service, and Digiturf was able to get a head start on you. How does your site differ from what they offer?

JP: is a similar game with a very different skin.

The navigation on has been further developed and there are a lot of color and graphics to make it more fun and appealing. The sites are totally separate, but we have a great rapport with them.

IGN: That said, do you think there is room in this niche market for more than one site? Do you see this form of racing, owning and training a horse being a major player in the future of online horse betting?

JP: We believe so. The game is still in its infancy, but with time we expect it to attract a loyal following of Internet gamers and horse racing fans.

We believe that it can only inspire renewed or new interest in the sport of kings. The site is a true simulation of real racing and will teach people what racing is all about. Some members will certainly be enticed to go to the track and experience real racing.

IGN: Who controls the outcome of the virtual races?

JP: This is determined by a number of factors. Firstly, each horse has its own pedigree, so one member may purchase a born champion, which requires less training and performance enhancing products, and another member may purchase a horse that may never make the grade.

It is also up to each owner in the way that he trains and manages his horse. An owner can improve the chances of his horse winning a race by training it daily and applying performance-enhancing products such as vitamins, blinkers, racing shoes and gelding (a severe surgical procedure).

There is also an element of strategy in choosing the race that best suits your horse's performance. Factors such as distance, track type and condition, and race category come into consideration here.

Finally, as with real racing, there is always an element of chance or randomness, so even a fit thoroughbred may have an off day. The goings-on on the day also play a part here.

IGN: What are your goals for users?

JP: To be entertained like nowhere else on the 'Net and be given a good opportunity to win lots of money. It is important to us to create a community of virtual horseracing fans who can interact with one another and share experiences, ideas and tips.

IGN: Will the site have a worldwide focus to it, or are you concentrating your efforts in one region or area?

JP: The game is being marketed on a global basis, as we believe it to have a universal appeal and therefore attract a global following. This is, however, subject to our terms and conditions published on the site.

IGN: Real life horse racing is going through a transition period right now that could have long-lasting effects on the industry. What kind of future do you see for the sport?

JP: There is a great tradition behind horseracing that is eternal. This can continue and even grow in an online environment in harmony with real racing.

IGN: Do you have a target figure for users to break even or turn a profit?

JP: I would rather not comment on the commercial aspects of the operation at this point.

IGN: Fair enough. Where do you see the site going in the next six months? Two years?

JP: We see continued development of the services and product offerings that will continue to surprise and thrill members.

We are promoting our affiliate program, which is very attractive, and in so doing bring more partners into the fold, especially ones which are as excited about this product as we are, thereby increasing the size and diversity of the family.

Q & A: Jason Pretorius, is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith