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Lockdown – What About The Horse?

Heads in the sand won't feed or care for our horses

A South African trainer has called on the National Horseracing Authority to immediately engage individually with every trainer and breeder countrywide in what would be a crisis management move to ultimately protect horses that are in danger of ending up lacking care.

The leading trainer suggested that in the absence of racing, NHA officials would now have the time on their hands to get trainers and breeders to open their books to prove that they had the means and a plan in place to protect the horses in their care.

horses on parad

Horses – centre of the racing universe (Pic – Hamish Niven / for illustration only)

“I saw the call for funds yesterday for the export protocols drive via SAEHP. Exports will always be a priority but we really need to realise that charity begins at home right now and we need to take proactive steps today. And the most pressing problem right now is the potential for some financial hardship that can only impact on the horses at yards and farms.”

He said that the establishment of the Special Task Team was a positive move, but questioned who was on the ‘Team’ and what their immediate plans were.

“Talk has always been cheap. It has just been discounted 90% in the current climate. Once again, one has to ask where the leadership is. I believe NHA CEO Vee Moodley needs to lead the charge. After all, what is the NHA’s mandate? Every day counts. Let’s not betray the horse,” he urged.

The call comes on the heels of Giles Thompson, chief executive of Racing Victoria, warning of what may be coming.

With almost the entire thoroughbred world having either stopped racing, or about to, Thompson pulled no punches, telling racing.com that the broad gamut of the racing industry needs to start planning now, for the time when shutdowns for various periods of time are inevitable.

Specifically, in light of a number of country’s experiencing a ‘pause’ of three to four weeks, he said:

“Participants would be kidding themselves if they believed a hypothetical four-week shutdown would only last that period of time.”

He suggested planning for potential outcomes that could last longer than that needed to be in train for every sector of racing.

“We need to start thinking from our industry, what that might look like. I don’t want to scaremonger, but let’s be clear about this, this is not something to stick your head in the sand and think it might not happen.”

Giles then touched on the elephant in the room.

“At the core of that all of us need to be thinking, as well of course about our people, but we need to be thinking about the horse. How are we going to look after the horse? How are we going to keep the horse safe, well fed?”

Those are the million dollar questions that are easier to ask than answer, but which are crucial for the thoroughbred industry to tackle.

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23 comments on “Lockdown – What About The Horse?

  1. W Van Der Westhuizen says:

    Hope that it will be pro-active. Some owners have already taken advantage of fleeing the sinking ship. There is the horse, I am out! Nice, it is month end and that income was relied upon. But don’t worry we wiill conjure up money to feed rhe horse, whilst taking it out of training. When we can start again we will still feed it for a month or two, depending on how long it takes to get it racing fit, in the hope of earning something. And then there is the reality that stakes will be reduced to make up for the loss of income. What an ideal situation. Hopefully there will be some stakeholders that will contribute by helping trainers stuggling to feed the horses and contributing to basic essentials like bedding. You know those people who really love the horses and are not in it for the money. At ground level that is what we need, not someone taking away the horse to alternative care where those people also rely on funding. Rather give funding to struggling trainers who is already looking after the horse in a safe and controlled environment.And what about the after effects? Ok now we can race again, can I please have the horse back? Oh but you see there is all these costs involved, and in any event we had to sell or give the horse away, but you must still pay the costs…

  2. Mike says:

    What about punters sizzling challenge

    1. Editor says:

      Announcing this morning, Mike

    2. Editor says:

      Still waiting on announcement, Mike

  3. George Spelvin says:

    The NHA was at pains to present aftercare as their chief concern at the ARC. So lady and gentleman what are you doing during the isolation? Is there substance to your presentation or was that purely a PR stunt? Is their substance to your care?

  4. twinkletoes says:

    Surely the horses should stay with their trainers and continue to be looked after? They are living things after all. Owners will obviously still have to pay their dues and hopefully we’ll be racing soon. Trainers with access to training tracks will be able to continue at least with keeping the horses exercised. I sincerely hope that the horses who give us so much will not just be cast aside.


    You should be extremely vigilant as there is a new threat/virus lurking on our borders….Windhoek Case24

  6. PL.NEL says:

    Free Willy, yup owners footing the bill. They need help.
    Start a lucky number draw with guaranteed big prize and get punters involved to bet. All of this advertised for horse care. 10 million pool pays 1 million prize money with balance for horses. Plus feed merchants like Epol and Equifeed must sponsor. Then add owners. This might do ?

  7. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…Mike I’m taking a wild guess by saying that you are within striking distance to the winning line in this freebie racing tournament,, I lay my life on it had you been gasping for air into the final stages not a word would have been said…Get life you (* edited) there’s much more to worry about than a racing tournament at this stage

  8. Cameron James says:

    I am gobsmacked that the NHA doesn’t have any protocol for situations as this.

    It seems to me that government doesn’t engage with the horseracing industry. Why dont we have mitigation processes already? This is multi billion dollar industry worldwide, yet the superstars (the horse) of the industry face uncertainty. I’m sorry , as the policier of the horseracing industry, the NHA has failed the industry and more importantly the horse….

    1. Editor says:

      Mr Vee Moodley advised us yesterday that something is in process, Cameron
      We are awaiting a press release

  9. Leon Lotz says:

    Mr Editor
    And what makes this all and mighty trainer so great that everybody must open there books like he is part of the army.There are breeders on farms that surely look after there horses.Mr trainer be carefull life can turn on you to.
    Please start with me

  10. Titania McTaggart says:

    Cameron James lives in a parallel universe where authority is omnipotent and has perfect foresight. Any crisis, of which all or most are purely hypothetical, are merely protocols filed for emergency. He presumes the NHA has protocols for events as unlikely as nuclear fallout and asteroid strikes.

    Welcome to the real world Mr James. Hopefully you enjoy your short stay with us while we remain locked down. Perhaps you could lend your superb foresight to the NHA in its discussion with the government. They need people like you with universal experience in tail risk events, even if your universe only has theoretical knowledge of such events.

  11. Cameron James says:

    Titania McTaggarrt, hypothetically speaking, if i did have to live in a parallel universe, my only concern would still be the horse. Maybe you have misunderstood my sentiments but I’m speaking out of sheer concern for a creature that has to be fed and taken care off. This creature also cant speak for itself.

    As for foresight into this crisis, the NHA has at the very least a month to have arranged for meeting with government and have at least a blueprint of their contingency measures for this catastrophic event. The astronaut from the international space station could have seen that government would lockdown the country.

    This is no asteroid event or nuclear fallout. To compare the scenarios you have painted is a bit dramatic, dont you think?

    The NHA is the body that controls horse racing in SA, they should have consulted with the relevant authorities weeks ago to address the possible scenarios a lockdown would bring and the contingency measures that had to be put in place.

    Correct me if im wrong is the above a very difficult task to achieve? Communication exists on any world, even in my parallel universe.

    You seem to question my foresight, maybe it’s the foresight of the NHA that needs to be questioned.

    For Mr. Moodley to even say “somethings in the process” at this time is scary.

    With the greatest amount of respect to you, this is no attack on any one personally and i apologize if i have offended you or anyone else for the matter.

    A Andrew Coumo type leader would be great for the industry, aaah, in my own little parallel universe. We can dream, cant we?

  12. Cameron James says:

    Hey Frankie Zackey, hope you well. Any news on how Hawaam is doing? Is he still an entire? Lol.

  13. Cameron James says:

    “Giles then touched on the elephant in the room.

    “At the core of that all of us need to be thinking, as well of course about our people, but we need to be thinking about the horse. How are we going to look after the horse? How are we going to keep the horse safe, well fed?”

    Those are the million dollar questions that are easier to ask than answer, but which are crucial for the thoroughbred industry to tackle.”

    Who is the custodian of the horse, am I wrong to suggest the NHA?

    I rest my case…..

  14. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Morning Frankie. Why you fighting with Mike ? Did you not enter the competition, I was looking out for Frankie Z..

    Maybe next one, by then draws back to normal ?

    Take it easy, be safe my friend ?

  15. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    I have sympathy with the NHA on this issue (only this one ), getting meaningful discussions with government in a short space of time is impossible, especially as the Industry seems to have nothing but problems to offer.


    Roderick’s comment is a carbon copy of my feelings, especially with the APT (brackets)

    The only successful restructure will have to have much, much more Government intervention & participation going forward.

  17. IAN says:

    I see the employees at the British Horseracing Authority have taken pay-cuts during the lockdown. Presumably little chance of our lot at NHA doing the same….?

  18. Hally says:

    William our lot at the NHA would want an increment

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