Industry Press

NHA Applied Today For A Lockdown Exemption

The chief executive of the National Horseracing Authority (NHA), Vee Moodley, sent an application to government today on behalf of the horseracing industry for an exemption from specific lockdown regulations.

The application has already been acknowledged and forwarded to relevant officials for further consideration, assessment and feedback.

The aim of the document is to encourage government to allow the resumption of operations on May 1 2020 after considering the following principles which pertain to horseracing:

1) horseracing poses a negligible threat to public health.
2) It preserves jobs for the most vulnerable sectors of society
3) It can contribute to the resurrection of the SA economy in a safe and controlled environment
4) it can mitigate against a major animal welfare crisis facing the industry.

The NHA have done their own risk assessment and identified horseracing as a low risk activity as there is limited contact and, furthermore, it is of high economic value.

Moodley has also pointed out during his liaising with government that SA horseracing operated successfully behind closed doors before the national lockdown and is currently operating successfully within the training centres under lockdown conditions.

He also pointed out racing has been operating successfully under lockdown conditions in both Hong Kong and Australia for about three months..

Moodley has informed government that in order to protect the horseracing industry from total collapse they would have to look beyond lockdown.

He did this in the spirit of cooperation and to ensure the preservation of life, coupled with job protection.

He has pointed out the SA horseracing industry has 6000 members who own more than 20,000 horses spread around training centres and stud farms.

The industry has staff of 60,000 employed either directly or indirectly.

He made the important point that among these 60,000 are 5000 grooms and they have specialised skills, so it would be difficult for them to find employment in other sectors of the economy.

Moodley pointed out that all of Summerveld, Randjesfontein, Ashburton and other training centres around the country had followed government recommendations for the lockdown and had shown themselves to be very responsible.

He said, “We are hopeful of a positive response in order to safeguard the horseracing industry and to ensure its sustainability.”

Moodley liaises constantly with government officials by both telephone and email so will be kept informed of progress in the matter.

The application for this exemption was a holistic one made on behalf of:

1) the NHA, who manage the general stud book and regulate horseracing, and fall under DAF (the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries).
2) the operators Gold Circle, Phumelela and Kenilworth Racing, who fall under the DTI (the department of trade and industry)
3) The TBA, the RA, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust and also grooms, trainers, jockeys, equine veterinarians and farriers.

If a positive assessment is made by the two relevant departments, the application will then be forwarded to the Coronavirus Command Council and from there it will go to the President.

Moodley hopes to have an official response before April 28 which is the day nominations and declarations will be done for for the May 1 racemeeting..

He pointed out that if racing is able to resume on May 1 no interprovincial travelling of either personnel or horses will be allowed. Travel will later be phased in according to government recommendations and regulations.

Moodley said, on another point, that the statistics for the Gold Cup meeting scheduled for August would count towards the new season and not this season.

by David Thiselton