Johannesburg, 2 August 2023
As part of its ongoing Transformation Initiative, horse racing operator 4Racing today revealed the completion of the first phase of the renovation of the Grooms accommodation quarters at the Turffontein Racecourse.
The upgrading of Grooms accommodation is part of an extensive series of Grooms benefits, aimed at empowering and improving the welfare of traditionally the most marginalised workers in the horseracing industry.
The Grooms accommodation renovation project started in February this year, after 4Racing conducted an extensive audit of all of the Grooms accommodation in its racing jurisdictions and found that the Grooms accommodation in Turffontein in particular was in appalling condition and in urgent need of repairs.
“Today on time and on schedule we mark the completion of Phase One of the Grooms accommodation renovations project and the complete refurbishment of our double-storey units at Turffontein and the official handover to our Trainers and Grooms. This has been a challenging journey, but one we believe was absolutely necessary to ensure the Grooms who are the backbone of our industry have a comfortable and clean environment they can call home. This is about far more than a new coat of paint, new beds, floors, showers, bathrooms and kitchens – this is about the appreciation and respect for Grooms who have traditionally been amongst the most marginalised members of the horseracing industry,” said 4Racing Chief Executive Officer, Fundi Sithebe, at a ceremony to unveil the upgraded Grooms quarters at Turffontein today.
During the renovation process, 4Racing needed to reallocate 50% of Grooms to temporary accommodation, with 52 Grooms now set to move into their refurbished double-storey accommodation this week. A total of 62 Grooms will now move out of the single storey units into the temporary accommodation, as the Second Phase of the project starts – which is expected to be completed at the end of this year.
Sithebe paid tribute to the 4Racing Board, who approved the Grooms accommodation renovations as part of a 4Racing Transformation Initiative which will see 26% of 4Racing transferred to a Grooms and Employees Trust, as part of a series of wide-ranging transformation initiatives. Mrs Mary Slack was a special guest at the Grooms accommodation renovation opening at Turffontein today.
“In a very difficult economic and trading environment where we continue to fight for the survival and sustainability of the horseracing industry – the 4Racing Board has been true to our company’s ethos of ‘Profit through Purpose’ and have prioritised basic human conditions and the dignity of Grooms through this Groom accommodation renovation project. This project together with the range of Grooms benefits, such as medical and funeral insurance provided to Grooms by 4Racing with the support of the Racehorse Owners Association, has seen dignity and equality returned to the horseracing workforce – most importantly the Grooms and Stable Hands,” said Sithebe.“Today, we find immense joy in being acknowledged as fellow human beings. We are elated for the 4Racing Team, which has taken charge of this enterprise. At this moment, we can proudly say that we are seen, our voices are heard, we are recognised and having a voice was all we ever desired,” Grooms representative, Nceba Magazi, said on behalf of the Turffontein Grooms.
Sithebe called on Grooms to take responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the upgraded accommodation, saying she hoped it would signify a change of lifestyle as this initiative not only focuses on enhancing the physical infrastructure, but also prioritises the overall wellbeing and safety of Grooms.
4Racing aims to complete the entire project by the end of 2023.