THE National Horseracing Authority (NHA) have just received feedback on the submissions that were made to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as the Horseracing Industry covers multiple sectors, to ensure the ongoing viability of the horseracing and breeding industry.

The answer to resumption of racing is, sadly, NO!

The NHA’s submissions thus far demonstrated the industry’s commitment and alignment to Government’s interventions in an attempt to preserve lives, flatten the curve, protect jobs and also stimulate the racing economy.  Subsequently, its submissions were forwarded to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and thereafter the National Coronavirus Command Council (Command Council).

The Command Council, having reviewed the submissions of the NHA and aligning it with the regulations and guidelines related to essential business/service,  deemed that racing was not to be an essential service. 

An addendum to the NHA’s submissions was then submitted to the Command Council to support assertions that racing is a low risk, a non-contact event with high economic value as the racing events are a critical element in the supply chain and a related Agricultural service. 

At this point, the Command Council having taken into consideration the NHA’s addendum, as well as other industry stakeholders’ submissions, decided that racing could not be separated from gambling activities like casinos, and these are currently not included under Level 4.

A clarification statement was then submitted to the Command Council which framed the conditions that the Breeding (Agricultural) sectors core purpose, its risks and opportunities, business model, performance, sustainable development and the actual horse race are INSEPARABLE elements of the value creation process. 

Having considered the regulations from an agricultural perspective and taking into account the weight of all other submissions from stakeholders, it was determined that racing would not be provided for under agriculture Level 4, except from an animal care perspective.  Clarity is being sought from DAFF with regard to the transportation of live animals, specifically not related to food production.  Upon feedback from DAFF a communication will be sent out.

It is acknowledged that the protocols for racing that have been established based on a phased return to business, demonstrate the observance of guidelines for social distancing, sanitation and hygiene, and use of appropriate personal protective equipment, like cloth face masks, as determined by the National Department of Health; and that racehorse training activities at the different training centres around the country, have been carried out in the strictest conformity with the instructions and rules of social distancing and maintaining hygiene protocols.

However, Government’s priority at Level 4 is on organised projects/events that are focused on those that are related to the provision of food, water and sanitization.

Based on the above, the race meetings scheduled for Greyville on 6 May 2020 and Turffontein on 7 May 2020 have been abandoned.  All entries and declarations have been suspended until further notice from the Racing Operators.

The NHA is committed to continue engagement with Government and shall send follow up submissions for racings inclusion at Lockdown Level 3 announcement. 

Vee Moodley, CEO of the NHA, commented: “We are hopeful that the announcement to Level 3 will be announced within the next 21 days.  The NHA fully comprehends the mandate from Government and the Coronavirus Command Council, in which the preservation of human life is of TOP priority, whilst trying to balance the starvation issues in townships and rural areas and the urgent resuscitation of the economy.”

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