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Owners: ‘NHRA Doesn’t Help Trainers’

Warned off trainer says he had no cash

The NHRA needs to assist trainers with owners who fail to pay. So suggests trainer Leon Eramus Jnr who was recently warned off after it was found he failed to provide a reasonable level of care and treatment to a number of his horses.

Erasmus, who took over the yard upon the tragic death of his Dad Leon who had been a trainer for 28 years. Leon died in a car accident in June 2018.

Erasmus Jnr writes on the Sporting Post comments platform:

“You all say it’s a disgrace, but not one of you stopped and asked why, what happened. Then I would tell you. I started off with no funds or financial backup, and I did everything I could possibly do to keep the horses going. The disgrace is the owners who know they have a responsibility to pay their monthly keep but never paid. In one year I’m owed over R250 000 from owners – but the horses must eat and work everyday.

And yes, I couldn’t give the horses everything they need but I did the best I could with the little funds I did get in.”

I’m getting all the blame and it’s fine – I will take it, but just one thing. When will the NHRA help the trainers by doing something about owners who don’t pay? I asked for help from them and still waiting for a response.”

The Sporting Post has referred the matter to the NHRA for a comment,

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20 comments on “Owners: ‘NHRA Doesn’t Help Trainers’

  1. Ian Jayes says:

    Long overdue.

  2. Eric says:

    For many years I have been trying to tell anyone who would listen,that Owners should be made to pay a 3 months uprfront deposit for each horse they own, or have shares in , these funds could be held in a lawyer’s trust account.
    Everytime the owner fails to pay his account, he then forfeits a months worth of deposit once his deposit is depleted, he must replenish it or his colors must withdrawn by the NHRA, he could of course then start over by paying his deposit. The interest on these funds could be used for NHRA Administrative services.
    Most Trainers work extremely hard and have to deal with many other issues unrelated to actual training, surely owners would prefer that their horses are given the trainers full attention and best care, without them worrying about insufficient funds to do their job.

  3. Head Scratcher says:

    Erasmus is quick to blame the NHA yet he was not quick to finger the owners who apparently never paid their dues. I wonder why? Perhaps he can explain and also name them. Full disclosure please. Come on SP do some investigation. Get the owners who apparently did not pay to comment as well.

  4. Jamtin says:

    Eric, well said!! I would even go on a step further and say if an owner does not pay for 6 months, the trainer should have the right to sell these horses to get his/her money back. (Hopefully) I DO NOT understand how owners can expect these trainers to keep their horses in tip top condition when they not paying!! (By the way, the above also apply to breeders!!) I know of a lot of breeders who are battling to get their monthly fees in!

    However, I am not letting the trainers get off this lightly! You as a trainer has an obligation to do your homework on a new owner!! Why is he or she all of a sudden moving their horses away from another trainer? These owners move around quite often…. check with previous trainers why the horses are moving or how did the owner pay… if the previous trainers do not spill the beans on these owners, then it is your problem! You create this culture to let these owners get away with it!!

    Trainers taking in horses in desperation are going to run into these problems. How many trainer take horses doing deals with the winnings they will make?? Lots out there, let me tell you!! They are on a hiding second to none. Things are tough out there, money is not lasting as long as it used to. Cost of living has jumped substantially in the last 18 months. Spare cash is not that freely available anymore. I always say, I rather go and sit on a beautiful beach somewhere and go bankrupt than doing my job relentlessly and professionally, with all the stress related with this and go bankrupt!!

    I can relate to Erasmus Jnr, if you do not get paid, you cannot feed your unpaid horses! The trainers need the NHRA to step in!! If not for these poor trainers, then for the horses!! They did not ask for a owner to buy them and not pay for their keep!! The horses MUST COME FIRST!! I do understand why Erasmus Jnr do not name these owners in his stables! Should he do this Head Scratcher, all these horses would be moved tomorrow and YES, OTHER Trainers will take them!! Beach bankruptcy vs Stress bankruptcy!!?? This is the problem trainers cause for themselves by taking in horses, knowing these owners do not pay!!

    As a small owner and breeder I know first hand how quickly you can run into cash flow problems!! I have been in racing for 4 years now and I love my horses. I give them the best possible keep they deserve!! However, in the 4 years I had 3 MONTHS where I broke even for the month. Every other month I pay in out of my pocket!! My wife has worked it out for me…. bless her heart, that I could take her overseas for 1 month, 4 times a year flying business class if it wasn’t for the love of my horses! 🙂 🙂 She is right off course, but where will I have that thrill running through my veins when my horse win a race?? Buying or breeding is the cheapest part of racing or breeding! Keeping all these babies and runners are the killer in the game. All my trainers KNOW, if my horses are running at 30/1 shots and finishes accordingly, I cut them!! Sounds very harsh I know, but the money you are throwing away keeping these horses can be spend on less horses and looking after those horses the best you can! Furthermore, These horses I cut become polo ponies, show jumpers etc. They have another chance to be great!!

    Let’s all stand up and make racing great again!! Ha ha ha ha

  5. Terry Lowe says:

    Absolutely true. Been going on for many years. Trainers are between a rock and a hard place.
    Neglect your horses which is only done through desperation and you are held responsible. Or chase the client and you loose potential income which you can’t afford to loose.
    Don’t give people colours who can’t afford to keep them and hold THEM responsible if they don’t pay.
    This should have been addressed years ago. Every trainer has been affected by this at some stage or another.

  6. Stealth says:

    30 years ago when I applied for colours, I had to undergo an interview with the jockey club and some Stewards. They did not pussy foot around. I was turned down colours because the jockey club did not think I was in a strong enough financial position. I was not impressed and quite peeved with them. To this day I am thankful to the wise men at the jockey club because as things turned out, the money that would have gone to pay for horses and keep was used for a business investment from which I continue to receive a substantial annuity income. I never applied for colours again.

    I understand that the old system that I was subjected to, is no longer applicable. Today any Tom, Dick or Fanny can get colours should they pay the jockey club fees.

    There is no doubt that the jockey club plays a part in the blame game.

  7. Head Scratcher says:

    Unbelievable how a trainer who neglects his horses is now the hero in the eyes of those who comment here. Erasmus made a big song and dance last year in a letter to Turf Talk about how he was being disadvantaged by the allocation of stables at I think Kimberley or perhaps the Vaal. He seems to have a long history of always being the victim and never the perpetrator of his own misdeed. Perhaps he should spend less time writing complaints to the editors of various Turf Rag’s and live up to the high ideals he holds others to. In Mr Erasmus’ ideal world trainers are not allowed to train more than a certain number of horses, owners must allocate their patronage fairly among all trainers irrespective if their ability, and the NHA must hold owners accountable for the commercial arrangements with trainers. It appears that socialism is what the majority of commenters want, or rather they want all the downside protected but the upside entirely to themselves. Such is the mindset which permeates South African horse racing. Pathetic!

  8. Cas says:

    I CJ Aucamp a owner who use to have horses with Leon Erasmus (jnr) dit not owe him a cent, in fact my payments was in ADVANCE when we took my horses away…ask any trainer with whom i delt before and they will confirm that i am paying my fees day’s before the end of every month.

  9. Flip says:

    The flip side of the coin is that you have good paying owners whose horses at trainers are not trained or fed properly and are given story after story why a horse should stay in training. Ask owners who no longer have colours and the majority will have suffered this fate.

    The excuse of Mr Erasmus Jnr of non payment by owners is no excuse. It is not something that happens overnight nor is the deteriation of the health of the horses. He seems to be a complainer. He complains about everyone else. He is the person responsible and he must never forget it.

  10. Ugie says:

    What a joke. A lot of trainers are doing deals.Asking owners that have horses with other trainers to move horses to them at a lower rate . Its desperate trainers that are bringing the game into disrepute. Poor horses suffer because of unscrupulous trainers out there. The NHRA have no backbone. There are trainers out there that are charging R3000 a month. Some trainers don’t charge and take the stakes. The end result, horses and staff suffer.
    if you had non paying owners , why did you have them in your yard. It’s all deals , deals , deals.
    I think the NHRA should look at owners that are notorious
    Non payers in the game and see that they are mostly esembled in certain yards where the trainers are known to be on the cheap and then look at that trainers payment history towards his staff , farriers , rentals and you will find the lenghts of desperation from these trainers.

  11. Eric says:

    No one is saying Mr Erasmus is a hero, nor are we suggesting the the NHRA become involved in Contactual obligations between Trainers and Owners, however to protect the horses, from suffering due to bad debt, and prevent Owners from being disadvantaged by their trainers who are then not able to give their fuull attention to the job at hand. This would also assist in preventing Trainers and Owners from getting involved in dodgy pratices in order to alleviate their financial burdens? Any Owner who loves Horseracing should embrace any idea that will improve the quality of life for their horses and the sport of Horseracing?

  12. Bernadette Snyjman says:

    After reading all the articles and comments on this subject, I am now convinced that not many in horse racing are really interested in the welfare of the horse.

    It is easy for the NHA to find the trainer guilty of not providing a reasonable level of care and treatment to a number of his horses but why has the NHA done absokutely nothing to ensure that the horses are being well looked after and receiving rehabilitative treatment?Although the NHA has acted against the trainer, nothing changes for the horses.

    If anything the revocation of the trainers licence and his warning off has taken away the NHA’s powers against the trainer and the horses now have no lawful help from horse racings regulatory body.

    I am disgusted.

  13. Cj Aucamp says:

    Mr. Erasmus as you know! I C Aucamp use to have horses in training in your yard. Please release the names of people who dit not pay you…ASB. ek wil graag die lug suiwer ivm. hierdie aangeleentheid. Baie Dankie.

  14. bob kistnasamy says:

    At the end of the day, the trainer is in the game for business reasons from which he is in a position to earn a living. When they got into the “trade”, surely they would have understood the constraints associated with the “trade” (owner payments being one of them).
    Surely there must have been an ethical code which trainers are subjected to relative to treatment of horses and relationships with owners.
    Junior must have been functioning with his late Dad and it appears that he has not learnt anything from senior.
    He is not worthy of the sport or being involved in it.
    Well done NHRA.

  15. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    Every part of SA racing is about self preservation. This situation has been exasperated by the NHA who are simply looking after their own interests not SA racing. Every day its another story. The FA looks after all of the football clubs interest because it is in their interest. This tells me the NHA find this a distraction to the main objective….to suck SA racing dry for personal gain.( ANC and SA ). Surely you have to feel for Erasmus, he is a horse person who was forced into a bad situation. This where the NHA should be or even the RA but what do they do ? destroy him…..6 owners, 6 trainers, 6 tracks….bubble gum racing ( lottery )….almost there. Where is the safety net ? who is there to advise ? I expect the RA will now “vet” the owners to see which ones they should nail or not ( it will be selective )….after the horse has bolted…..The NHA and the RA should be responsible but the individual will be blamed as usual but not when it comes to their violent path……Another scummy story……it doesn’t stop. I am self employed but if my clients don’t pay then I struggle….simple. Erasmus’ complaints…were they investigated ? Just because it is the Sporting Post does not mean anything will happen by the powers that be……I see people are attacking the trainer ( he did reach out ) when we know who the elephant is…..this was allowed to break.

  16. andre says:

    Why not introduce a “clearance form” from the trainers to the NHRA on owners that have not settled their accounts for a period ( X months?) before their colours are renewed annually? The owners will then be given a grace (x months?) to settle said accounts or their colours wont be renewed.
    The only problem can be with queries/mistakes/deals made on accounts so that would have to be taken into account by the trainers.
    Most trainers know their owners paying patterns and can thus make an educated decision of them as “bad/non payers”
    Not easy, as most businesses have to deal with bad debts without much help, accept the legal route.

  17. Pops says:

    Cj Aucamp you say you had horses with this stable.Apparently there were not many horses in this stable so there could not have been many owners.So surely you would know who had horses in this stable and if so just name them.
    The non paying owners are responsible for this sad situation,
    Lets say you do not pay your electricity bill and the metro disconnects your electricity.Your foodstuff goes bad in your now non working fridge.Will everyone blame the Metro for the state of your foodstuff.
    Well it seems some poster are doing just that and forgetting it was you who did not pay.

  18. Jamtin says:

    The excuse of Mr Erasmus Jnr of non payment by owners is no excuse. It is not something that happens overnight nor is the deterioration of the health of the horses.

    Flip, you are 100% correct. The horses must come first!! However, we need a body to assist non payments for the trainers! Owners who cannot pay the keep for their horses should also not be in the sport!! There colors should be taken away and they should be interviewed and then provide proof that they are then in a position to look after their horses!! There colors should not just be given back without proof that they can afford the keep of their horses.

    Someone please stand up and do something about this!! It is not right that these animals are treated like this! Trainers, speak up!! BEFORE you lose your business….

  19. Cliff says:

    I don’t want to get in an argument with anybody but in my view if you don’t get paid in the 1st 2 mnths get rid of the horses. No horse asked to be starved lots of us went through same nonsense but horses will never not get fed. I met Mr Aucamp there should be more people like him.
    The problem is the DEALS train for free and give 50% away. Bullshit they pay in bigger centers then want to ride the backs of the smaller trainers broken. Once again it is the fault of the trainer for allowing it. The welfare of the animal must come first no matter what.

  20. Max says:

    Each owner must pay his monthly upkeep, training fees & vet bills. This amounts to roughly R10 000 per month per horse.

    In order to keep a hous3 in train8ng you require minimum R60 000 per horse for 6 months or R120 000 per anum.

    Without these fees a horses welbeing is questionable.

    Deals between owners & trainers, alrhough a private arrangement cannot be regulated nor adjudicated by the NHRA.

    There should however be a credit gurantee insurance in place to meet these obligations for the benefit to all parties.

    This is for the wellbeing of the sport.

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