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SA Racing: COVID-19 Latest

Racing Association steps in to mitigate stakes cuts

Following Government’s announcement to extend the COVID-19 Lockdown to the end of April, there have been numerous meetings of the Racing Operators, the Racing Association and The National Horseracing Authority over the Easter weekend.

The following update is hereby provided :-

  • Targeted Resumption of Racing

On the assumption that the extended national Lockdown is lifted AND that racing is permitted to resume with adequate betting revenues flowing to the Racing Operators, the plan is to recommence racing on Friday, 1 May.

To this end, The National Horseracing Authority is in the process of making a coordinated representation to Government on behalf of the South African Horseracing Industry to enable such resumption after Lockdown is lifted, under whatever Government restrictions are implemented.

Given that we will have effectively lost 5 weeks of racing, the Racing Operators have agreed to push the National Feature Race Programme back around a month, which will mean that the Vodacom Durban July will take place on the last Saturday in July (with the Gold Cup meeting pushed out to the end of August).

This will allow the Highveld to move a slightly revamped Champions Day (featuring the Champions Challenge and six other major races) to the last Saturday in May and stage the Horse Chestnut Stakes (Gr 1), SA Derby (Gr 1) and SA Oaks (Gr 2) on Saturday 2 May.

In the Western Cape, racing will now resume on Saturday 2 May (alongside Turffontein), with the first legs of the 3yo Winter Series (Variety Club Mile and Sweet Chestnut Stakes), together with the Klawervlei Farm 2yo Sales race, moved to this day and the race programme amended accordingly.

This will enable Gold Circle to move their night meeting on Friday 1 May to Sunday 3 May.


Gold Circle confirms that during the period May to July there will be no night racing at Greyville and these meetings will be moved to alternative days.

In the Eastern Cape, the lost East Cape Nursery (L) will be rescheduled for Friday 1 May, and the second and third legs of the World Sports Betting Poly Challenge will be relocated to 8 and 25 May respectively.

Depending on the Government regulations applicable after the lifting of the Lockdown, it is likely that we will have to resume racing “behind closed doors” (possibly with even tighter restrictions than before) with only essential participants allowed to attend race meetings.


Given this, and the unique logistical challenges involved in staging racing at Flamingo Park, a decision will only be taken to resume racing in Kimberley once the government’s directives post lockdown are known.

  • Stakes

It is common cause that the Racing Operators’ businesses have been under significant pressure of late for several well documented reasons.

This has been further heightened by the national Lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 containment measures implemented by Government. During this period virtually no revenue has been generated whilst the Racing Operators have had to continue funding their operations.

RA LogoThis includes a significant effort by the Racing Operators, The National Horseracing Authority, the Racing Association and all stakeholders to keep the training centres operational under strict access control and sanitization protocols.

Due to this drying up of revenue and the uncertainty around the timing of the resumption of racing, football and other sports around the world (on which the Racing Operators are heavily reliant for revenue), it is unfortunately unavoidable that racing will resume with a lower level of stakes until the businesses of the Racing Operators normalize.

In the interim, the Racing Association has agreed to contribute R13.1 million towards stakes in Phumelela regions and the Western Cape from May through July, thereby helping to mitigate the resulting reduction in stakes in those regions.

It has been agreed nationally to reduce the MINIMUM stake thresholds for Pattern and Feature Races as follows :-

Grade 1 – Open R425k, F&M / 2yo R325k

Grade 2 – Open R175k, F&M / 2yo R150k

Grade 3 – Open R125k, F&M / 2yo R100k

Listed – R85k

Non-Black-Type – R80k

The necessary communication with the Asian Pattern Committee in relation to the amended stakes levels and new dates for the Pattern has been provided by The National Horseracing Authority.

In addition, minor races stakes will be run at reduced levels in all regions with a single stake for all minor race categories per region as follows :-

KZN – R70k

Highveld – R67,5k

Western Cape – R40k

Eastern Cape – R35k

Northern Cape – R25,5k

PhumelelaThe Racing Operators are acutely mindful of the devastating impact this stakes reduction will have on all participants in the sport and are committed to increasing these stakes levels as soon as they are able to. Phumelela and Kenilworth Racing are extremely grateful to the Racing Association for their support, without which these minor stakes levels would have been significantly lower.

  • Staff

The Racing Operators and The National Horseracing Authority are addressing all other areas of their businesses too, not least of which how their staff are treated during this challenging time.

In line with Government guidance and directives, staff who are either not required or unable to work during the Lockdown period, will be placed on annual leave as appropriate.

National Horseracing AuthorityFurther, the various senior executives of all three Racing Operators and The National Horseracing Authority have had their remuneration significantly reduced (by up to 50%) even though their workloads have remained unchanged and even enhanced in most cases. This in line with the financial hardship everybody in the industry is facing currently.

The National Horseracing Authority has also agreed to reduce the Racing Operators’ levies (the primary funding source of The National Horseracing Authority) by 50% for the months of April, May and June.

PLEASE NOTE that as this situation is extremely fluid, the Industry Stakeholders will continue to meet on a regular basis and if there are any material changes to the above, we will keep everybody informed.

  • Released on 13 April 2020 on behalf of the Racing Association, Phumelela, Gold Circle, Kenilworth Racing, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust and The National Horseracing Authority

(Pics for illustration only – by Candiese Lenferna, Chase Liebenberg & JC Photos)

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22 comments on “SA Racing: COVID-19 Latest

  1. Gman says:

    Reduction in salaries BY UP TO 50%.That means 0 – 50%.Top guys fitting some big blinkers on the connections eyes.The stakes reduction are to the point.Have a look at PE and Kimberly stakes.Good luck to all the owners/trainers concerned going forward.You may have a love for horses but its gna be every owner for himself if they do not take a stand soon.

  2. Leon Lotz says:

    Mr Ed
    The following questions
    1 Should certain saddling boxes not be allocated to a specific trainer for the day and him or her only
    2 No bibbies for grooms leading horses,risking spread of virus
    3 saddles and girths jockeys.Grooms, trainers saddling horses,risking spread virus
    4 Private trainers traveling to different race courses.

    I am not racing ,I do not want to spread the virus or pick it up and spread it further

  3. Speedyvar says:

    Gm an you correct.It is like a Jets sale.Prices reduced by up to 50%.It is a promo stunt.
    Who is taking this 50% cut?

  4. Frank says:

    As a owner of 6 horses in PE, I think the first order of the day will be to get rid of these horses. There is no way to make back stable fees, not even thinking of vet cost. It was not possible before these cuts, now even less so

  5. Titania McTaggart says:

    You need to read properly before you comment Gman. “Reduction” is the operative part of the sentence and not “up to 50%”. Zero percent would not be a reduction.

    In future if you want to appear smart just say “0.0001% to 50%”. That way we know you are really smart and not merely challenged.

  6. Shay says:

    Kzn Champions season should be scrapped. Carry on with normal race meetings, use the big stakes money from the big racedays to help rebuild and then have it next year. Sponsors gna pull out left, right and centre. Nobody is going to pay absurd prices for tickets and i doubt they going to reduce ticket prices. Just my 2cents…

  7. Jeb says:

    Reading Cliffie’s sad plea is a shocker for every self respecting racing person. It’s time that people like Nairac, Riley, De Kock and Bloomberg asserted their intellect and authority and took charge of this mess! Cliffie is correct, the Phumelela execs are blaming Covid and it’s all about their lack of performance. They all need to go immediately!

  8. Gavin says:

    Are they going to be reduced training fees

  9. Kenny says:

    My understanding was that the 3% bookies levy was to be redirected to an independent body such as the NHA which would then also look after the grooms? This would absolve the operators from funding and controlling the NHA

  10. Philip Goldberg says:

    That salary bill would make interesting reading.
    There is no love of the game when it comes to these employees.
    I bet salaries have been the most draining factor on the company’s resources. And yet it has taken so long to take these measures.
    Hopefully the reduction remains in force until owners get an increase in stakes.
    Whats more important.
    Owners, and the future of racing, or a handful ganovim who can’t even run the show properly.

  11. andre says:

    All great, everyone cutting costs, owners leaving in their droves, trainers owning more horses etc. NOT one Vet coming to the party ??? As an owner I have instructed my trainers that NO vet touches my horses without my direct consent and all costs involved. (unless its a life or death situation then he may use his discretion ) ENOUGH !!

  12. DEAN DEMONT says:

    In my opinion, jockeys riding fees should be cut by 40%.. trainers and jockeys fees should be revised overall to 5.5%.. then the vet, that charges 6k to put a local anesthetic, clamp the balls,and then snip, (what a rip off,) exactly a 20 minute job, should come to the party,and there should be a governing body to control exorbitant vet fees. So to get to the point,every sector,from the CEO of the NHRA to the janitor should contribute,at least 40% of wages to compensate for damages accrued. Also the carryover “kitty” that is held by the “auditors” should also be used to put back into the finances lost.. end of the day, if you are going to take a pick 6, you are going to take a pick 6… it doesn’t mean because there is a carryover that it makes it easier to catch.. if these aspects dont be enforced, then like I’ve said on numerous other posts,racing will indefinitely come to a grinding halt. How can a owner buy a horse at an average of 200k,for something that might run, then feed it for months before it runs,then eventually if and when it breaks its maiden, you as the poor owner have to then come out with roughly 25k once the winners cheque gets chopped up.. sad but true.. it’s a case of tails you lose,heads you lose..

  13. Grant says:

    I would love to know how much money is held in unclaimed winning bets by the tote. This surely must be a astronomical amount. This money should be put back into the system instead of into someone’s pocket!

    1. Editor says:

      That goes into the TAB coffers after a period?

  14. Cameron James says:

    Sorry Ed, just a question, do the 2 racing operators have “exclusive rights” to the SA horseracing content?

    If so, is there a defined period of this arrangement?

    I understand the NHA is the regulator of horseracing in SA. I just would like to understand how it flows from there and how Tellytrack fits into this whole arrangement. If possible….

  15. Gman says:

    Ag shame titania did I pinch a nerve.Are u perhaps one of those taking that huge pay cut of 0%.Mayb u can help Phumelela with their books or are u related to J Zuma.

  16. Dag says:

    Bravo at least all of ypu are agreeing that this game is being run by a bunch of crooks who dont care less truth said if horses are still being trained and tge training centre are as limmited as they are racing should be there truth of the matter is no racing no money no money no game no game no horse survival

  17. Hennie says:

    @ Grant

    The unclaimed winning bets are called unclaimed dividends and breakages by Phumelela. You can imagine why Phumelela does not call it unclaimed winning bets. Last year Phumelela reported that an amount of R45 million was allocated to its revenue from unclaimed dividends and breakages. The totalizator rules stipulate:-

    2.7.1 No claim for payment of a Dividend or for refund shall be admitted unless made within the period prescribed (in the relevant Legislation) of the date of issue of the Ticket, unless the Operator in its internal control procedures provides otherwise.
    2.7.2 Monies unclaimed within the prescribed period after the date of issue of a Ticket shall be forfeited and accrue to and become the property of the Operator subject to payment of the prescribed tax.

    Ask Phumelela what it has done with its unclaimed dividends and breakages. My guess is that Phumelela has used this vast amount of money which belongs to punters despite the payment or refund period not have expired before it can appropriate the money.

    When horse racing resumes all and I mean all carryovers from before 26 March 2020 have to be used for the first race meeting. You can bet your bottom dollar it will not happen.

  18. Ian says:

    Don’t expect the Vets to come to any party. They been killing the game for years. And we all know who they are !!

  19. Donald says:

    I know a few owners who pulled out because of vets bills. One owner in particular would show me these bills that caused tremendous friction between himself and his trainers who he changed a number of times during his ownership days because of these accounts which were astronomical to put it mildly !

    I did not know the price of cotton wool was so high !

    These vets bills lead to this particular owner thinking that the possibility existed that the vet and his trainer had some sort of scheme going which proved not the case as when he moved his horses there was no improvement in the situation ?

    Surely something could be arranged with vets on a ” contracted in basis ” at the training centers to ensure that the rates / costs are known and published for all to see and understand for a particular year so that shock for owners is mitigated to some degree ?

  20. The Equalizer says:

    A common theme emanating from all comments is all racing authorities are held in poor regard by the racing public. Whilst i cannot speak for other centres , but can safely say that Gold Circle is in a mess simply because the same directors are reelected every year. therefore the results are the same…..going one way …down.They actually have one person(too long in the tooth) who canvasses for certain candidates to be re elected, thus blocking new entrants on to the board. Keep re electing and rewarding people for doing a rotten job. Thats Hold Circle for you.

  21. Jay August says:

    The Equaliser, I cannot agree with you more. What the industry sorely needs is ingenuity and fluidity in thinking. What is gets instead, are the same regurgitated people in the same regurgitated positions, talking the same regurgitated nonsense.

    It always amazes that those most culpable for the malaise the industry finds itself in, are also the most likely to proffer suggestions, suggestions which are the also least likely to succeed,

    There is no second coming for this lot, although standing together and singing kumbaya may well be the last rallying call for the old guard.

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