Executive pay cuts, a no strings Business Continuity Plan and a Health Emergency Continuity Plan.
That’s the call from trainers on Day 8 of the lockdown after the SA Racing Special Task Team’s update to the racing community on Thursday was met with a lukewarm reception from some quarters.
“Who is actually working with Government on behalf of racing. And what are they putting in place – there surely must be a real plan?” asked a frustrated senior trainer.
The press release contained little real substance and has evoked concern from trainers that feel that our racing authorities are in denial. The only given is substantial stakes cuts.
“It’s easy to understand that the entire situation is uncertain. The lockdown is fluid. The revenue streams have dried up. But horses continue to eat. Staff are required to look after the horses. Staff need to be paid. The feed companies have never been easy on extending credit. They will become even more stricter,” said one trainer, who felt that the raw statistics of who actually owned what, showed that trainers were under massive pressure.
In a survey done this week at the Vaal, of the 18 trainers who provided numbers, it showed that 50% of the horses are fed and raced by the trainers themselves.
“That’s a heavy burden to bear. We need assistance. Racing needs to step in. We are not demanding freebies. We need help. We need a three month plan, now. Otherwise there will be no horses to race. That is a simple reality to avoid a catastrophe. What happens when we cannot feed our horses? We ask and nobody in authority seems interested. The Racing Association are sitting on R50 million. That’s said to be for bad times. If these aren’t bad times, then somebody is lying to somebody,” said an angry Gauteng trainer, who added that he felt for the trainers who didn’t have top clients or alternative sources of income.
Vaal and Turffontein trainers questioned the Racing Association’s gesture of assisting grooms, as published in the Sporting Post on Thursday – ‘we haven’t heard of it prior to reading about it in the Sporting Post’, was the feedback.
“We want Mr Stuart and his Phumelela Executive to show solidarity and good faith, together with the NHA, the Racing Association and other racing authorities countrywide to agree to salary cuts. That’s the first course of action. Otherwise they are enjoying the fat of the land while the children go hungry. We are in this together. They are part of the simmering problem, which COVID-19 simply pushed over the cliff edge,” said another senior conditioner.