The late withdrawal of an accepted but technically ineligible horse from Friday’s Fairview racemeeting has highlighted possible flaws in our racecard finalisation systems.
Any scratching after final fields are declared is a negative and an inconvenience for the racing operator, punters, as well as for the connections.
When it arises through an apparent failure in the NHRA / NRB processes, then it requires a remedy.
At his previous start on 20 September 2019 at Fairview, the Emmanuel Kaknis-trained John In Flight was recorded to be stubborn loading, unruly, nervous in the stalls and apparently stood awkwardly rendering his jockey unable to mount this gelding for a period of time.
The official Starter’s report at the time of John In Flight’s last run stated that the gelding’s starting stall certificate was withdrawn and he was suspended in terms of Rule 61.6.10 for a period of 7 days and until such time as he proves tractable loading into the stalls. Suspension dates: 21.09.19 to 27.09.19. He could not be presented for re-passing during this period. Trainer E Kaknis was advised
That’s what the Stipes report said.
But it’s then that the picture blurs.
At 11h47 on Friday – that’s 38 minutes prior to his engagement – Stipe Deanthan Moodley called the National Racing Bureau.
The Stipes report of Friday’s meeting confirms the withdrawal – no starting stalls certificate (11:47 – 18/10/2019). It is qualified by ‘to be investigated’.
We contacted the trainer, who confirmed that he was telephoned by Stipe Ms Jessica Thinyane less than an hour before the race.
“It costs time, effort and money to prep a horse for a race. I also declared equipment in the morning and was fully ready to run him.I was not informed at the time of his last run that the starting certificate was withdrawn. The NHRA have all my passports, so how would I be able to check that anyway?” said Mr Kaknis.
Apparently no official of the NHRA had informed the trainer of the withdrawal of the start certificate in September.
Should he have read the Stipes report? Maybe. But the NHRA need to maintain the order and the formal flow of information to ‘offending’ stakeholders.
The NHRA are in possession of the horse’s passport. That in itself surely creates logistical problems and seems irregular in terms of the rules.
The trainer nominated and accepted the horse without an issue on the NRB system. Everything sailed through – which must indicate a possible absence of checks and balances and a breakdown between the NHRA and NRB.
The Stipes obviously only realised there was an issue an hour before the race.
The programme was available on Wednesday already. Does that mean they only looked at the day’s racecard just prior to the meeting?
Kaknis said that, in his opinion, John In Flight’s behaviour on 20 September hardly suggested that there was an issue and that he had never been troublesome previously.
For the record, he is a 7yo, and he felt that the suspension of the starting certificate was uncalled for in the first place.
The Sporting Post also has received unconfirmed reports that the scratching of John In Flight was announced on course and was attributed to the non availability of the engaged jockey, who was stood down.
There has been a measure of instability in the staffing of the Eastern Cape’s Stipendiary Board in recent times.
Their vastly experienced Chief Stipe Mike Jones (left, above) bowed out after 33 years service in November 2017.
Julia Keevy left the NHRA in April this year to take up a position with the Mauritius Turf Club.
Controversial former Gauteng Stipe Thulani Khanyile appears to have left the NHRA.
The appointment of Jessica Thinyane, the first female Stipe of colour in South Africa, has not been officially announced.
Earlier this month former boss Deanthan Moodley was appointed as the Chief Stipendiary Steward in Kwa-Zulu Natal with effect from 1 November 2019.
At the same time, Langa Douse was appointed Chief Stipendiary Steward in the Eastern Cape with effect from 1 November 2019.
We have requested a comment from the NHRA and the National Racing Bureau.