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The Hollywoodbets Durban July meeting saw great racing on a balmy winter’s day, but was sadly spoilt by an abandonment of the last three races as loadshedding reared its ugly head again (Picture: Hollywoodbets)      


The Hollywoodbets Durban July meeting had to be abandoned with still three races to be run for safety reasons after loadshedding had kicked in and this was costly to the industry in more ways than one.

NHA CEO Vee Moodley, in response to the various arguments and rumours that have been circulating on social media, said, “This is a classic case of smoke and fire and people arguing about the smoke. Where there is smoke there is fire and the fire here is the South African problem of Eskom and loadshedding. Without loadshedding there would not have been any arguments. So we should stop fighting with each other about the smoke. Instead the industry leaders should come together and discuss ways and means of preventing this from ever happening again.”

The official NHA stipendiary steward report on the calamity stated: 

As the riders proceeded to the start of this race, the racecourse was cast into darkness due to load shedding which commenced at 18h00 in the vicinity of the Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse.  

Upon enquiry from the Stewards, Gold Circle management advised that load shedding was not planned for the period from 18h00 to 20h00 in the vicinity due to a pre-arrangement with the Metro. It was added subsequently that the electricity was switched off at 18h00, and would then be restored, but that it would take at least thirty minutes for the floodlights to be powered up to facilitate racing. The Stewards called for a meeting with the riders and it was established that they had serious concerns that they had been left in darkness en-route to the start, which in their opinion would potentially put their lives and that of their horses at risk. 

The Stewards enquired from Gold Circle if any guarantees could be given that the electricity would be constant and uninterrupted once the floodlights were powered up. The response was that no guarantees could be given. During the meeting there was a further dip in the electricity which raised further concerns from all parties present. 

The jockeys were then asked if they would consider waiting until 20h00 until the planned original load shedding schedule had ended, to which they replied in the negative as no guarantees of constant, uninterrupted electricity at this projected time, could be given by any party.  

The Stewards, after carefully considering the opinions from the riders, the Veterinary Surgeons and the Gold Circle representatives formed the opinion that the lives of the jockeys and the horses could not be placed at risk in these circumstances and decided that the race meeting should be abandoned in the interest of rider safety, horse welfare and the integrity of racing. 

A solution will have be found by industry leaders before the Gold Cup meeting because that also traditionally has a race or two under floodlights and as it is a Hong Kong World Pool event the times of the races will probably not be able to be set to only suit South African audiences.