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No Racing – The Human And Horse Cost

'Holocaust' - Louis Goosen

Trainers are facing the heartbreaking decision of whether the horses in their care will be allowed to live or die as a result of the continued lockdown.

The Witness reports that Summerveld-based trainer Louis Goosen said his yard had gone from housing 40 thoroughbreds to 20 in the past six weeks, as wealthy owners decided to cut their losses. In some instances this means horses being euthanased.

Louis Goosen – ‘holocaust’

The horseracing industry had hoped to be allowed to operate on a “behind closed doors” basis, with the health and safety of staff and animals a priority.

They stressed to the authorities that the public would be barred from the race courses and that all public gambling facilities, like TAB and bookmaking outlets, would remain closed, while owners would be encouraged to continue to support the industry by picking up winnings through the resumption of racing.

On Monday, however, the National Coronavirus Command Centre (NCCC) rejected the National Horse Racing Authority’s submission.

Michel Nairac, chief executive officer of Gold Circle, said it was a deeply frustrating situation for the industry and undoubtedly will result in the loss of thousands of jobs.

Gold Circle CEO Michel Nairac

“There are two economic models in the industry,” he explained, “one that involves owners of horses, spending on buying multi millions on animals from breeders and then hiring trainers to feed and prepare them for races. They in turn employ grooms, support feed suppliers and vets. It’s a voluntary model of people who want to spend money on horseracing.”

The second model, said Nairac, involves Gold Circle, Phumelela Gaming and Leisure and Kenilworth Racing, who provide the courses and facilities for races across the country.

The idea to race behind closed doors had the support of the departments of Trade and Industry and Agriculture — the two segments of government racing falls under.

Goosen said they even had support from Health Minister Zweli Mhkize, who had been impressed by the measures taken by trainers in Summerveld and Ashburton to protect staff during the lockdown.

“Our grooms have been staying here, in isolation. We have been feeding them and sending money back to their families. We even made a clinic to ensure they got their HIV and TB medication,” he added.

All the staff have been tested for Covid-19 with no cases in any of the training centres around the country.

“All we wanted was to be able to let the horses race for the benefit of the owners, the breeders and our export market,” said Goosen.

The refusal by the National Coronavirus Command Centre to let racing go ahead now threatens an estimated 60 000 jobs in the sector, from grooms to hourly-paid staff, like waiters, who do shifts on race days.

It could also result in the JSE-listed Phumelela Gaming and Leisure and Kenilworth Racing going out of business. Phumelela, which runs horse­racing in all provinces except KwaZulu-Natal, was already feeling the effects of the recession before Covid-19 hit the country.

The company said that while it continued to look for new ways to raise capital, it may be forced to discuss whether or not the business can be rescued or if the group should make application for voluntary liquidation.

Both companies are expected to make announcements soon.

Nairac said his company was also struggling to maintain facilities and pay staff. He added that the human resources department had embarked on a retrenchment process on Monday for permanent staff.

Meanwhile, hourly-paid staff at Gold Circle’s courses in Pietermaritzburg and Durban have not been paid in April and are unlikely to get any money in May. “They have families and need to work to put food on the table. There is no other work they can do because so many industries and businesses are closed,” he said.

For the horses the stakes are even higher.

Trainers have been told by some owners that they no longer want to pay for stabling, food and training and that they must choose what happens to the animals.

The lucky ones have found new homes or are being cared for by the Coastal Horse Care Unit, which is reportedly packed to capacity. The less fortunate will be euthanased.

Goosen said it was devastating being forced to choose, adding: “I have been in racing all my life. I’m now 60.We dealt with equine flu. We dealt with African Horse Sickness. But never, in all my years has it been this bad. It’s a holocaust.”

Breeders are also wondering what the future will hold.

The National Yearling Sales, which had been due to take place in April, have been moved to July or possibly August. In the meantime, colts and fillies will need to split up, and the animals will need to be well fed and cared for so that they can be in a good condition for the sales.

Ted Hughes, chairperson of the KZN Breeders Association, said: “Our fear is that with the lockdown a lot of businesses will fail and that a lot of horses will end up being put down.”

  • The Witness

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39 comments on “No Racing – The Human And Horse Cost

  1. Leon Smuts says:

    This rapidly unfolding catastrophe must be avoided. Surely given the level of support outlined in this article suggests that racing should be allowed to proceed in the interest of workers and animals. Tarnished images is really coming back to bite so many for the folly of so few. Shocking if logic doesn’t prevail in these circumstances.


    And obviously all the horses being euthanized will have to be recorded on the national records of the NHA register, will they ?

    This to show that it wasn’t a matter of trainer negligence.

  3. LK says:

    Two models? Get real. How long would model one last without model two? The arrogance of it all.

  4. Gerh says:

    When reading the RSA websites and comments with regards to horse racing, I see horror stories of horses having to be put down by owners and trainers. Last night on SABC the head of the NHA gave a harrowing explanation of horses already being euthanased because racing has been forced to stop.

    If the facts are there, it easy to paint a picture of doom and gloom. I dont expect the head of the NHA to hoodwink us or government to get permission to race. I wanted to see the facts. I went onto the NHA website to see the recorded deaths of horses by owners and trainers since Covid 19. To my dismay, the website with regards to registration and licensing has not been updated since 26 March 2020. We cannot check whether the facts given to us are correct. I find this unacceptable since the NHA has been working full steam and remotely.

    I have to ask: What are the facts and figures since 26 March 2020 with regards to horses in training that have been put down?

  5. Johno says:

    Do not use emotions to try get approval use science only, COVID 19 is being managed by science please come to terms with that!

  6. Dorrie Sham says:

    Gerh…..the NHA staff dealing with website updates are not currently working. We last raced on 26 March and since then only urgent work is being done.

  7. Dave Other says:

    This world seems to be about keeping everyone in the dark ……pay lip service to free speech, transparency etc. but behind the scenes it’s personal agendas and much plotting and planning from secret societies …..and I don’t just mean in racing
    RIP wonderful creatures …..

  8. Tracey Sleep says:

    I find it disgusting that now that racing is not happening that owners are abandoning and euthanasing their horses. These owners should never be allowed to own a horse in their life again once racing continues. It horrifies me that the human race can domthis just because they now spending and nit earning

  9. Boete says:

    The nccc are actually clueless just like the dept of educ good luck vee and company

  10. Graeme Galansky says:

    The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide of the European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, across German-occupied Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews. How does 6 weeks of no horse racing compare to the Holocaust ? Louis should be careful when throwing around such big words.

  11. Cass says:

    Only in our country do we have this situation, Mr edidor what ever happened to the fund that was been set up for public contributions? Please advise.

  12. bert says:

    not have horse racing ,no cigarettes ,no alchohol,can have winter clothing (didnt know summer clothing can cause coronavirus)and so it goes on and on.

  13. Robbie says:

    Having worked in this industry for many many years as a farrier here and abroad ,
    My mind boggles in that owners just with a phone call can hand back horses to trainers and say I’m out, it’s sickening and sad at the same time , horses have no recourse no funds to hang in there for another home ,sometimes it happens well they are the lucky ones,it’s extremely hard especially now in times of uncertainty to shoe these horses and hope they will be there next month,here is a fact 90 percent of us are a month away from being broke,Farriery is a life style,we are character and skill driven people with a passion for the equine but we don’t have much of say in things which is cool ,believe me we know our horses inside and out although we are just the blacksmith which is archaic by the way ,farriery is a studied subject ,to see horses ,trainers,grooms and all the other persons involved to get side lined by the powers that be ,obviously haven’t seen with their own eyes i.e training Centres and see the mammoth task it takes to put money in their bank accounts, while they have no clue whatsoever of how this industry helps them To keep them in the lifestyle they are now accustomed to !
    The end.

  14. Barry says:

    No words can describe what all of us are going through right now. There is a far greater threat that ultimately aims to decimate the population and no money, a lack of well functioning and managed industries and the resultant human suffering is now taking preference. Money is of no interest to those that have propagated this ” scamdemic ” it is ALL about power and control and the suffering of mankind and each and every animal does not feature in their scheme of things !!

  15. Pieta says:

    Graeme , Ja sadly the word gets thrown around without the writer having a clue where it comes from……sad to have read that….should be ashamed of himself…

  16. malperumal says:

    I am constantly reading that horses are being euthanased. Could somebody please put a figure to this.
    Maybe then we can all put through some contributions

  17. Speedyvar says:

    Mr.Goosen knowing you read the comments section .Did you really say–
    “Our grooms have been staying here, in isolation. We have been feeding them and sending money back to their families. We even made a clinic to ensure they got their HIV and TB medication,”
    If yes.
    Are you also staying in isolation?Are you not paying your grooms seeing that you have to feed them and send money to their families.
    And why mention their HIV and TB medication.
    Could you not have said,”We set up a clinic that would supply their medical needs”
    And are you comparing the putting down of horses to the Holocaust?
    Please apologise.And clarify.
    We want racing back up a running and not to antagonize you know who.

  18. Azzman says:

    Racing will not oorn, because the powers that be still see the sport as a sport of the rich and privileged , and not a sport of the comrade masses. And now is the time to punish the “opressors”
    I agree 100% with what mr Goosen said, he said nothing wrong. Why must he jump from the truth and facts about what the clinic is set up for? The grooms obviously have tb and hiv… Rather thank him for his help and truthfulness.
    Stop ALWAYS trying to find something racial to fart about, change your mindset…

  19. Cecil Pienaar says:

    This article I read in The Witness, previously The Natal Witness (1846), oldest newspaper in SA, Pmb nogal. Nice pic of my beloved Scottsville as well. Zoom, in the background is Meadow Feeds, producer of Animal feeds, Tiger Brands Flour Mills… Pics do tell stories…

    Sad story, close to home, but the Holocaust link, No …..

  20. Speedyvar says:

    Azzman you should take this ,print it and stick it on your iphone,laptop PC.
    “I do not like to state an opinion on a matter unless I know the precise facts.”

  21. Pieta says:

    Azzman, this 100% that you agree with mr goosen….does it include his
    Holocaust beliefs?

  22. Azzman says:

    I ageee 100%… None of us should state bias opinions based on emotions caused by political and social economic believes…. Stick to the facts.
    Racing is up and running almost around the whole world, regions hit hard by covid 19.. Usa, Australia, nz and European countries, because the powers that be see it for what it is, and recognize the value it adds to a country. They recognize the worth of lives, ppl and horses. They see it can be done in a controlled environment. They have no political agendas when they decided to let racing go forth… The simply wanted to save jobs and lives… Its as simple as that…
    We can allow ppl 700mm apart in a taxi, but we cant allow ppl 2m apart in racing? We can allow thousands of ppl queing up for food and grants, squeezed against each other, but we cannot let horses race? We can allow a whole circus of events go on, while its o. K to kill horses, let 60000 ppl lose their jobs… Where is the sense in that???
    I think the “idea” that is perceived by powers that be, that the rich and privileged will be able to survive this, is correct… They will survive… But by cutting of your nose, you spite your face…
    By this, they forget about the 60000… And their families… Its massive…
    So rather than trying some stupid fart about a clinic thats for hiv and tb, and making this a stupid race and political thing… Make this a 60000 humans and their families thing, make this a thousands of horses thing…
    This is what it all about, and this is where my heart is… With ALL involved in this industry, humans and animals.

  23. Azzman says:

    I see what he is trying to say, by the horses being lead to their death, without any mercy or help out of the situation. Im sure he did not mean it as litteral as many took it.
    Ppl who know me, know that im a proud jew, a lover of israel… I did not take offense.
    I think i see mr Goosens heart in this…

  24. Gill Olmesdahl says:

    This is just the tip of the iceberg of the impact this situation will cause if government does not let racing go ahead. Racing is a major Supporter of all three of the Horse Care Units who are going to be much needed now as horses are compromised through Covid 19 lockdown and due to job losses. Calls are already coming in to the Horse Care Units which will result in a huge drain for these horse charities. The horse care units also assist and help rural working horses which are in most cases vital to the livelihoods of rural subsistence farmers. In KZN The Coastal Horse Care unit has assisted rural owner with education on basic medical and horse care. They have also started a program on skill transfer and job creation in rural areas. These programs will not be able to continue without the assistance from horse racing. Unless funding is secured shortly Horse Care Units will have no choice but to reduce or close in this time where the services will be in a greater demand.

  25. Pieta says:

    Thanks for your reply Azzman👍👍

  26. malperumal says:

    Food for thought!!
    We are all so concerned about the grooms and their families, right?
    Go into the NHA website, under their registrations. They list no of horses, owners, jockeys, trainers etc. Stable employess less than 200?
    Are grooms not part of stable employees?
    Or are they a forgotten category?

  27. Pieta says:


    There are some grooms that were/are here illegally….the number I believe was/is high……no one can/will give you a proper answer….that’s why the NHRA will not be responsible for them. The trainers responsibility to be the employer and answer to the authorities.

  28. LK says:

    Graeme and Tracey – 100% correct. (1) Not a word to use in any other context. (2) Owner’s telling us there would be no game without them, promptly killing their own animals. Despicable.


    That’s right Pieta,

    All issues surrounding the word ‘the Groom/s’ are taboo.

    Nobody in racing has the foggiest as to how many grooms their are/floating around.

    Mike de Kock stated on TV, a few months back, that he employs 37 grooms.

    This collaborative statement contains a degree of embroidery.

    Yes, government needs to know about the details of imminent & further pitfalls within racing resulting from the lock-down but they have advisors who can and will identify with speculative or headline seeking statements.

    Any decision now made to as the phased lock-down will bear a cost to the Nation, it’s unavoidable.

  30. Vivian Felix says:

    Playing Gulfstream USA and Sha Tin – China during lockdown- Vivian Cape Town. Punter.

  31. Yandisa says:

    This situation needs us to put our senses together, and find possible ways to help the industry survive, rather than fight amongst ourselves,

  32. Noel says:

    @yandisa, I couldn’t agree more. This is about an industry that is on its knees. There are thousands affected currently. Our horses, trainers, grooms and so many many more. People need to stop taking everything so personally as i am 100% sure those doing so, are metely doing so for the love of the industry. That’s all! If you are going to take offense to a comment posted, stop reading the comments. This is only about our beloved industry and nothing else!


    Mr.Goosen, Mr. Azzie, Mr. Grant Maroun and any owners in despair to the extent that you can’t feed your horses … please pass this invite on to your connections.

    Tracey Sleep says:
    10th May 2020 at 1:59 pm

    “If there is an owner who wants to give me a horse instead of euthanasing it please do.”

    I’m sure the Editor will be willing and able to get Mrs Tracey Sleep’s contact details.

    Is that OK with you and the Sporting Post, Mr. Editor.

    What a heroine this lady is !

    1. Editor says:

      We have written to her William to ascertain more details as to geographic location etc

  34. Noel says:

    @Robbie , you use this term ” us ” when referring to being nearly broke. While I would agree that there are many riding horse farriers that are feeling the financial constraint right now as are many other south africans, I would like to remind you that you and many other race horse farriers had the luxury of working during lockdown, earning your monthly finances. Therefore, please dont be so judgemental with owners that are making extremely difficult decisions regarding their horses during this difficult time. Although I don’t agree with euthanasia or simply giving the horses to there trainers, we must remember that each individual is faced with his or her own financial difficulties and they are merely trying to keep head above water like so many others in the industry. Now is not the time to judge but rather offer support and help if you are in a position to do so. Judging and criticizing is not the answer.

  35. Donald says:

    My bet is that Tracy Sleep will not hear a word from any owner / trainer that will give just her a horse and if it does happen there will be a mountain of paper work to be completed with the authorities , and rightly so !

  36. Sherwin says:

    “Our grooms have been staying here, in isolation. We have been feeding them and sending money back to their families. We even made a clinic to ensure they got their HIV and TB medication,” he added.“

    Well done Louis on such an act of kindness during these trying times.
    Im not sure why this was necessary as the government had approved your UIF TERS application which would have enabled you to pay your grooms wages.

  37. Joao says:

    Had the late Great Mr Ian Jayes been listened to the grooms “card” would not need to be played like it has for the last few weeks. Funny how an industry often at conflict with the grooms and an industry body that regulates everyone except the grooms now mentions them so often.

    Had the keyboard warriors been listened to then the business would be in a such a structured place that all the needed facts and documents could easily have been submitted.

  38. Alan says:

    I couldn’t agree with you all more. Grooms not listed as stable employees….shocking…
    Trainers only seem to “care” about the grooms when it suits them and serves their needs.

    Why are only the trainers seem to be complaining financially, jockeys don’t seem to be complaining. With all the UIF relief and a lot of the stables sponsored by Hollywood Bets and others, the trainers should surely be able to get over this period like every other South African is expected to.

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