The national lockdown had placed South African horseracing under serious threat of closure. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
The national lockdown had placed South African horseracing under serious threat of closure. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

The horseracing fraternity are 'in it together' as the season resumes

By David Thiselton Time of article published Jun 1, 2020

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VEE Moodley has been praised by National Horseracing Authority (NHA) board member and respected industryman Robin Bruss for a "Herculanean" effort in successfully lobbying for racing's resumption on June 1.

Some will be under the impression that It was simply the Covid-19 stage 3 regulations which allowed the NHA to make the decision to resume, but it should be pointed out that the resumption of sport was only ever going to return in stage 1 and the provision made for non-contact sports did not originally exist.

The non-contact sport clause was crucial in allowing racing to resume so the lobbying done by racing and other sporting concerns has made all the difference.

The Covid-19 crisis has had a big immediate impact on racing, which will be running with reduced stakes for the time being, but long term positives have emerged too.

Moodley said: "There have been lots of learning curves. The stakeholder engagement process has been accelerated. Also all agree that the sustainability of racing can not be achieved without a strong relationship with the government and the lobbying during lockdown has allowed us to establish strong ties with them.

"It has been an extremely stressful time but our relationship with the government has been brilliant. They have responded to every one of our communications."

During lockdown the amount of coverage of the horseracing industry in the mainstream media has reached a level which has not been seen for a long time too.

Moodley pointed out that horseracing had been issued with an essential services permit from day one of the lockdown under the auspices of the Animal Improvement Act of 1998.

The NHA falls under the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Forestry. However, racing itself was unable to operate until now partly due to the clause for agriculture, which stated animals could only be moved between 06:00 and 09:00 and within a 5km radius. The all encompassing sports lockdown was the other reason for its closure.

Moodley praised the entire industry for their "world class" level of compliance to the lockdown regulations.

One example in which this was proven was government authorities testing 450 grooms at Randjesfontein and not one of them being found positive.

"The NHA views the lives of horseracing industry people as very important and we also want to help get the economy going. We are in it together and have to work as a team within the restrictions, protocols and boundaries," Moodley said.

"The survival of horseracing has to be the ultimate mandate of every individual and every stakeholder. I urge everybody to please comply with their health and safety regulations and the protocols because the pandemic is here to stay and the situation is still very fluid."

Moodley concluded by praising his NHA colleagues Hazel Khayiya and Arnold Hyde as well as the NHA board and other industry leaders around the country.

"We adhere to a high performance culture and I would like to make special mention of Hazel and Arnold for their hard work and for putting up with my constant nagging. A big thank you to the NHA board under the chairmanship of the first ever female chairperson Susan Rowett for their support and for allowing me the freedom to express my leadership skills," he said.

"Also a special mention to the RA under Brian Riley who assisted us and who provided the subsidies which saved many horses from euthanasia. Also to Michel Nairac and Robert Bloomberg, the respective CEO's of Gold Circle and Kenilworth Racing, and Patrick Davis, the racing executive of Phumelela. There are many others to thank too."


IOL Sport

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