An incident, appearing to show a groom kicking a horse in the belly in the wash bay just before Greyville’s race 3 on Friday, 13th January (coincidence?) has attracted widespread interest and comment across the South African racing community.
It has emerged that the groom is in the employ of KZN trainer Paul Gadsby and in a refreshing approach, Mr Gadsby contacted the Sporting Post earlier today to comment on the matter.
“First off, I’d like to thank everyone – the Operator, the NHA and all the members of the racing community and the public for the way the matter was dealt with. I was upstairs at the time the incident took place, but thanks to the swift way the information was shared, I was notified almost immediately and could take direct action.”
“I have been liaising with both the NHA and Gold Circle officials and the incident will be dealt with via the correct channels on Monday. I have recently become a member of SEESA, who are Labour Law specialists and they are the best people to handle the matter in a fair and objective manner. It will be interesting as it will be the first time they handle an incident like this for me, but my groom has every right to state his case and defend himself, should he wish to do so.”
“I cannot say much more at this point as I don’t want to prejudice matters, but I have been in racing for 50 years and have worked hard to build a good reputation and I want to make it clear that I cannot and do not condone that sort of behaviour. However, it has drawn a lot of comment and I feel it is important that the matter is acknowledged and that the racing community as well as the general public are assured it is not being swept under the carpet and that action is being taken. There wheels are in motion and now we need to make sure the official channels and procedures are followed and allow matters to run their proper course. I will of course make the outcome of the enquiry known to the NHA.”
While thanks are due to Mr Gadsby, the NHA and Gold Circle for their swift reaction, it may well be a landmark case for our industry. South African racing grooms are currently not officially licensed or sanctioned by the Regulator or by the Operator in any way and grooms fall under the direct employ of each individual trainer. With previous attempts at forming a representative Groom’s Association having so far fallen flat, this may just provide the necessary impetus for the matter to be revisited.