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Lockdown: Two Sides Of The Welfare Coin

'Intervention needed - it's no use crying on 17 April'

Horse welfare needs to be taken into consideration by government and racing bodies in any decision that would see the halt of racing.

Last week we published the appeal of a leading trainer who implored the NHA to take the lead and get trainers to open their books and provide lockdown contingency plans.

Another trainer subsequently countered this view and took exception to the ‘insulting’ suggestion.

NHA CEO Vee Moodley told us on Monday it’s an impractical request, given limited staff resources but that the racing regulator would continue to carry out their supervisory duties.

NHA CEO Vee Moodley – doing his best with limited resources

The welfare aspect is not a poser restricted to us.

According to the dailytelegraph.com.au, Robbie Griffiths, president of the Australian Trainers’ Association, has suggested that shutting down stables would become a major animal welfare issue with some 4000 thoroughbreds who “will still need to be fed and watered”.

He advised the issue applied equally to other codes, pointing out that, as is the case with quarantine centres, human movement is controlled in training centres.

“You can’t lock the gates on stables. The same people who are with the horses now will still be with them then. You can’t close it down. Even if they all go spelling people need to feed them,” observed Griffiths.

“Horses don’t carry the virus. Cats and dogs still need to be fed as do horses. We can’t afford for the horses’ sake to shut the doors.”

This was echoed by a local leading trainer, who responded to our Vee Moodley interview published on Monday by suggesting we should be finding solutions, ‘not making excuses’ and it was a time for leadership to be displayed.

“Mr Moodley knows as well as us one can’t wait for government to get us out of trouble. It is very easy for each trainer to send along his debtors list and the NHA can start the ball rolling.”

It was pointed out that the NHA also has each and every colour holders details at their fingertips.

“And why I am badgering on about it is because we are not a factory who can close the door like the NHA is doing. In a time of crisis we have to keep going – and where is the feed coming from? Perhaps they need to send a general newsletter to the owners and make recommendations for the future of the horses in trainers’ care should they not be able to pay them and have a rescue plan in place.  Or ultimately we all lose our jobs – every other country in world racing is telling us what they can do – not what they can’t! We cannot start sobbing in 21 days time and we know it is not going to end there!”

Waiting for government to wave a magic wand is not the answer

A different view is taken by trainer Leon Lotz, who told the Sporting Post that the call by the ‘almighty trainer’ who wants everybody’s books opened is out of line and is offensive to himself and his owners and breeder.

“It sounds like this individual is a policeman.This lockdown is going for 3 months and when people we know start dying, like all the trainers and grooms that are at massive risk,what will you then write about? I really want to ask you to write positive things now and think before you upset people. The NHA is in any case not the law of the country and why will you want to risk officials visiting studs and trainers to open their so called books?”

Mr Lotz said he had posted the original article on Facebook and ‘the return is not in the Sporting Post article’s favour’.

“Ask this king of a trainer to rather offer help in the tough times ahead if he is still going to be alive. I will tell you that 99% of the industry loves horses very much and they will look after them with everything they have left. It is not his place to question other people’s integrity. He is making the industry look even worse. I have nothing to lose and this one will not go by without a fight!” he concluded.

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5 comments on “Lockdown: Two Sides Of The Welfare Coin

  1. George Spelvin says:

    One thing I am learning in this lockdown is who the control freaks are amongst us. Friends I’d not thought authoritarian are apparently the worst. Luckily I can now socially distance myself from them. I am with Leon on this. Others fears and phobias should not drive rational thought. The trainer who is so concerned should volunteer his/her services. Talk can be cheap even for a leading trainer.

  2. Jack Mills says:

    I say first of all any trainer who thinks that the NHA has the right to infringe on any trainers or persons private business matters must think again the NHA must at all times operate in a Democratic and Transparent manner at all time and they do not have the right to infringe on any trainers or persons Democratic and Human rights it would be a violation of the Democratic and Humanrights of people’s the trainers businesses falls within the act and law of emergency services suppliers and businesses so there for they and there grooms are allowed to carry on there operation and work but I’ll Advise it to be under strict conditions pf health and safety measures at all times and also keep in mind your social safety measures at all times and wear masks at all times when operating systems and work stay safe and healthy guys we’ll beat this health problems regards to all Jack Mills

  3. W Van Der Westhuizen says:

    The reality is that a training facility like the Vaal and other facilities can continue racing during lockdown as there are sufficient workriders to not only cater for races but it will also help the workriders to earn an extra income for their families in dire straights. I should also think that the income that can be generated through international betting would benefit the operator. Surely it cant be that difficult to adhere to safety rules as each person can still keep the necessary safety distance and comply with safety measures. Obviously it will have to be based on willing participants. Guidance can be obtained from countries that still continue with racing.

  4. nonametrainer says:

    The sad thing about this is the negative light it shine on a Industry that was already struggling to survive before the shutdown and shows just how divided the industry is.

    Instead of looking for excuses to shut down yard and trainers, should we not be looking for solutions to ensure the survival of all trainers and industry during this time of crisis and stand together. The leading trainers and breeders that have reaped the rewards of the industry due to the type of owners and horses that allowed them their success should be stepping up with solutions and stepping up to help all medium to small trainer survive if need be.

    What will the leading trainers do if at the end of this crisis all medium to small trainer are gone? They’ll need to move to one centre and race against eachother.

    What will breeders do with all the horses the leading trainers don’t buy if the medium to small trainer are gone?

    What will happen to all the horses from shut down yards during this crisis, who will look after them and where will they go? They’ll need to all be put down.

    How many people will lose their job not only at these stables but in the whole industry if a big down size happens?

    These are just some of the questions we need to ask.

    Don’t get me wrong, the well-being and care for horses must be take seriously and a trainer needs to know when to make the tough decisions to either ask for help or close doors but we should be looking for solutions to ensure it doesn’t get to this and not ways to shut yards.

    The welfare and care for horses can still be check/monitored by NHRA with out a trainer opening their books. The NHRA/Stipes are allowed to inspect your yard on any day at anytime which is stimulated in the NHRA rule book and during that inspection if that trainers horses are in good condition and there is feed in the feed room that should be more than enough to satisfy the NHRA and anybody else, that the horses are been cared for.

    Until such time as the NHRA become the debit collectors for trainer’s outstanding account for owners that don’t pay, which the NHRA did a background check on and provide colours too, I will not open my books to them but they are more than welcome to inspect my yard and the condition of horses.

    What we as an industry needs to realize is we all need eachother, this game is a typical example of the circle of life. Without breeders, trainers, owners, regulators, NHRA and punters there is no racing and now more than ever before, we need to stand together and help eachother for the survival of the industry.

    My suggestion is lets be positive and let us look for solutions and most importantly, lets stand together.

    Here is me offering a possible solution. Why doesn’t someone setup a help email and bank account? The email address will be for trainer struggling to survive to send an email requesting help were that trainer will stay anonymous to the public and the bank account will be for people to donate if they are able to. These trainers asking for help will not receive the money from the bank account but rather whoever regulates this will arrange for horse feed to be delivered to these yards.

    That is my opinion.

    All the best and stay safe.

  5. Donald says:

    Nonametrainer , your above post has very valid points , is well thought out and in which common sense has carried the day.

    Now we wait for the ” TASK TEAM ” that we have heard so much about but have heard very little from to comment on the matters / possible solutions raised !

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