THE definition of “pull a rabbit out of a hat” is to do something surprising and apparently impossible. That is what Adrian Todd, MD of SA Equine Health and Protocols (SAEHP), has achieved in his goal to get the country direct access to overseas racing and breeding markets, writes DAVID MOLLETT.

Todd’s detractors believed he had more chance of climbing Everest than getting the protocol rules changed. However, with the support of breeders, bloodstock sales companies and leading owner Chris van Niekerk, his frequent trips to Brussels have eventually born fruit.

Addressing the 38th Asian Racing Conference (ARF) in Cape Town last Friday, Todd said: “After engaging fully with not only its stakeholders but also national government, a world-class system has been created and implemented and ready for EU audit on April 20.

“The SAEHP will receive a report by mid-May followed by a three-week consultation period with the EU and further meetings with EU committees before a hoped-for go-ahead in November.

“We’ve been living in splendid isolation — this would be a massive deal for our racing and breeding industries. SA has a worldclass product and it would let us get on the international stage for the first time. We’ll be on the world scene for the benefit of all,” said Todd.

The final message from Andrew Harding, secretary-general of the ARF, was proof that the federation backs the efforts by SA for doors to be opened.

“The mission of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities — to which the ARF is fully signed up — is to promote the globalisation of racing,” Harding told delegates.

“SA’s rehabilitation can benefit racing globally — a successful audit over the next nine months to the EU and audit of new control measures devised by SA to combat the threat to direct movement of horses will benefit not only the home nation but also international racing.

“If the audit is successful, there will be benefit to SA breeders in good bloodstock being available. International racing would be stronger, more interesting and have greater value propositions in so many ways if the quality of SA bloodstock can be seen more easily on the world stage,” Harding said. It is worth reflecting on the words of last season’s leading owner, Van Niekerk, in his speech at the Equus awards at Emperors Palace Casino & Resort
last August: “We humans seem to have got this unfortunate trait — we think negative and, as a result, what transpires is only negative. We need to get to the real issues — there are always solutions to be found.”

Todd has heeded this advice and all the positive vibes emerging from last week’s Asian Racing Conference points to him pulling the rabbit out of the hat to the overall benefit of horse racing. – From Business Day.

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