The extension of the COVID-19 lockdown to the end of April now looks set to threaten the scheduled start of the SA Champions and effectively scupper the remainder of the Highveld Season.
South Africa’s premier racing season is carded to commence at Hollywoodbets Greyville on 1 May with a bumper feature programme that includes a traditional season launch pad in the Independent On Saturday Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes.
Entries for the features, including the WSB Gr2 Guineas and the WSB Gr2 Fillies Guineas, are due on Friday 17 April.
While the season could well be shuffled and compacted, if it runs late Cape trainers cannot get their horses back in time to AHS them within the required time frame, and get them fit.
“If Durban goes ahead late and Cape-based trainers stay to race in KZN we will either have to miss the Cape Season or next year’s Durban Season, due to not being vaccinated to travel,” a trainer told the Sporting Post.
“We now face a serious dilemma which the authorities are going to have to work together with very carefully. The Cape horses need to come home by 1 August. Any later, and we can’t prepare them properly for the Cape Season.”
A proposal was made by another trainer to possibly lure the KZN trainers to the Cape for the Summer Season by offering incentives of free stabling, and even possibly sponsored B & B accommodation in the Milnerton area to maximize the Sizzling Summer Season.
“We will have the opportunity by then that we are hopefully all back on the tracks and the Cape can be a launch platform to better things after very little racing. I think if we go the same route as many other countries under COVID-19 lockdown, we are going to be back on track in about four months time. Unless the government allows us to continue somewhere down the line under very strict conditions? But that’s hardly likely as it’s a huge risk to our staff and attendant personnel. Many other industries are also paralyzed at the moment. Whatever the situation we desperately need a plan,” he added.