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July Day Feature – This Looked Bad

Was this undue force?

The National Horseracing Authority has opened an investigation, the scope of which will hopefully also cover the actions of an official on track, into a feature runner’s reluctance to proceed to the start of the Gr2 Zulu Kingdom Golden Slipper on Vodacom Durban July day.

A short clip taken off Tellytrack shows an individual, reportedly a farrier, striking the filly Big Hello’s with force on her hind legs with what looks like a stick or stock whip, in full view of viewers and on-track witnesses as she stands motionless on the track on Saturday.

The clip has been sent from various sources to the Sporting Post and is doing the rounds on whatsapp.

The Stipes reported that Big Hello’s (B Jacobson) proved reluctant to proceed to the start.  Trainer L Goosen was advised that should this filly behave in a similar manner in future, she may be suspended.  An investigation has been opened into the circumstances surrounding Big Hello’s (B Jacobson) being reluctant to proceed to the start of this race.

The filly, raced by leading owner Suzette Viljoen, does not appear to respond to the vigorous strike first time and only very marginally the next.

On any raceday, this sight is likely to shock any average viewer. On Vodacom Durban July day, the action just becomes more unbelievable.

The Sporting Post has written to the NHRA to confirm what the scope of their investigation entails.

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49 comments on “July Day Feature – This Looked Bad

  1. Pieta Louw. says:

    Mr Ed….It is only what you see on the screen…..you have no idea what happens to these poor animals on a daily basis……
    This individual should spend time in jail….and this clip is going worldwide……not that SA need any introduction.

  2. Pieta Louw. says:

    It reminded me of the trainers using cattle prodders.(because they cannot train a difficult horse).and they are still with us….nothing will happen.

  3. Andre Nel says:

    Good Day Ed
    I have raised this once before regarding the abnormal number of our horses having to be reshod at the start.Our farriers are either producing sub standard workmanship or the shoes that they are using are not suted to our tracks or not good quality. Racing in other parts of the world do not seem to have this many cases of horses having to be reshod at the start.Are there any stats kept on the occurences from the stipes reports?However i look forward to the outcome of the investifation into the incident mentioned in this article and would hope for some definitive action been taken if ill treatment of the horse was proven.

  4. Louis Goosen says:

    1. Myself, as the Trainer of Big Hellos, was watching from the parade ring when the filly stuck up at the track, before going to the start.
    2. I was rapidly making my way to the filly when the incident took place. I never saw it happen. In fact, the first that I knew about it was on Tuesday am(yesterday).
    3. Myself and my staff do not do anything but our very best in terms of how we treat our horses. In our yard, they have their own characters and are personified. We are open to inspection at any time. We will never condone any form of cruelty to any horse or animal.
    4.The Owners of this filly have been nothing but an absolute revelation in terms of how much they love their horses. They do not see them as numbers, but as individual horses, whom they visit often, having direct contact with each horse. This takes us back many years, in this modern, pressured, cutthroat world. Their old school kindness is a reminder to us all. Ask their other Trainers – the Viljoen family love their horses and are a privelege to train for. They are not happy about their filly being struck.
    5.This incident is being investigated by NHA, who have assured us that they are taking the matter very seriously.
    6.My own investigations reveal the following. My groom who was leading the filly says that the farrier used a short cord , which he had in his hand. It was not a stick or a whip. There were no marks or swellings on the filly.
    6. We will now vaccinate the filly and spend some time with her, doing all sorts of different exercises, to try and get to the bottom of what she did not like about Greyville. At home she has no issues at all.
    7.For the readers who are Punters, dont forget this filly. I would not normally put an unplaced maiden filly into a Grade 2 race. She has shown a lot at home.

  5. donald bradshaw says:

    I know this farrier and we always have a chat when I visit the course. I also know him to be a top farrier and a very knowledgeable dignified horseman who often assists at the start and sometimes plays the role of assistant starter !

    I was therefore taken aback to see this clip of him sticking the horse in such a fashion ?

  6. jc lee ching says:

    This is so sad, what will all the animal rights groups say ? and they would be correct. Is this the way to attract new blood to horse racing? I think not. If this @&*(^%$ does this in full view of all and sundry what does he do out of view? He should be fired and never come near a horse again, but it won’t happen.

  7. jc lee ching says:

    When a horse has shoe problems at the start it should be scratched IMMEDIATELY. Besides the time wasting these horses almost always run poorly and the time delay affects the other horses as well. I watch UK racing every day and NEVER see horses reshod at the start, why? why does it happen here like clock work? poor workmanship? any costs suffered by the owners should be paid by the farrier responsible.

  8. Robbie Miller says:

    Andre Nel,
    Maybe you could do a better job shoeing these horses? Here’s my phone number 0832783496, maybe you can enlighten either myself, Andy Rivas or Robbie Dawson on how to shoe a horse so that it doesn’t pull a shoe. I won’t even try to explain to you the variables at play from when the shoes go on until they get to the start. Do yourself a favor and try to educate yourself a little before making such an idiotic comment about our South African farriers. With regards to the actual matter at hand, our members of the South African Association of Professional Farriers (SAAPF) certainly do not condone such behaviour, and the course farrier in question is not a member. Perhaps the NHRA should take accountability for the people they hire!!

  9. Garrick Bergh says:

    Dear Mr Miller,

    Allow me the latitude to comment on your response to Andre Nel & to start off by giving you one unsolicited piece of advice:

    Never respond in writing to criticism until the rest mist has cleared. Your rant does you no credit and does absolutely nothing to elicit sympathy and understanding from the reader. End of sermon. Now let’s analyse your response.

    The worst possible response to a critic is to invite that person to ‘do a better job’. It’s a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude that permeates the horse racing industry and which is almost a tacit admission that there IS something wrong but that you can’t or won’t do anything to correct it. Would you say the industry is a healthier, more inclusive entity now that you have done your bit to chide yet another paying customer? If the state of racing gets much worse you might just find yourself shoeing ‘virtual’ horses; which will constitute rather slim pickings!

    Both Mr Nel and I (refer my letter dated 28/02/2020) share a common concern: Far too many horses require re-shoeing at the start in SA. Fact. Those that require this remedial work seldom, if ever, win. Fact. Any normal, customer centric business would be deeply concerned by this as the volume of re-shoeing in South Africa far outstrips, by comparison, any I have witnessed in the UK; where I regularly watch huge volumes of racing often comprising much larger fields than in SA.

    You were quick to draw two colleagues into your response. With or without their consent? Just wondering as you alone signed the response.

    I failed to read anything ‘idiotic’ about Mr Nel’s comments. You might not have liked them but could hardly claim that they were fabricated or mischievous. I would be interested to see a response from SAAPF themselves and would be quite surprised if they both endorsed and condoned the nature and tone of your response. If they did I would be moved to request that they remove the term ‘Professional’ from their title as your post, where you publicly admitted to being a ‘card carrying member’ of the association, most certainly wasn’t.

    Your last comment on the behaviour of the farrier(?) who mistreated the filly on July Day was about as fatuous as a church goer expressing surprise when a fellow congregant is revealed to be a serial wife beater. There is no template or accounting for who will transgress levels of decency. Or when. Membership (or not) of an association by a transgressor provides no protection for the victim.

    I humbly recommend you have another stab at this issue and explain to all of us in a non-dismissive manner why we are all wrong and what you are doing to reduce the unacceptably high levels of re-shoeing that is presently rife on local racecourses. We are all willing and able to be enlightened.

  10. Andre Nel says:

    Thank you JC…A logical explanation is all that is required.as to why horses in other countries are not re shod at the start as regularly as ours are.

    1. Editor says:

      This is not Andre Nel the trainer, for the record

  11. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Dankie Louis Goosen en Good Luck met die filly 👍

    Robbie Miller, Agree.. 100%


    Mr Robbie Miller,

    Kindly enlighten the racing public further, if you please Sir.

    How could it be that the course farrier, you say the COURSE Farrier, is not a member of your esteemed fellowship ?

    Secondly, is it not a breach of the NHRA duties, as a protector of the Industry, to hire a unregistered farrier ?

    Thirdly, in your line of duty, have you ever been requested to get/force or motivate a horse to go down to the start ?


    Yes Mr. Lee Ching, spot on.

    Keep it simple and give the punter the best chance. Withdraw these horses

    Then, if owners feel that there appears to a trend with shoeing gone wrong, questions can then be raised, after the fact.

    Inevitably, it costs owners as well !

  14. Chris Evans says:

    Well said Garrick and very eloquently written.I totally agree with you.I also watch a huge amount of UK racing and also Hong Kong.The first time I saw a problem with shoeing was in the UK recently where the solution was just to take the shoe off and race unshod on near fore.That aside it would be nice to get a sensible answer from a respected farrier, and we have some top ones in SA, why the problems re occur so often.

  15. Andre Nel says:

    Hi Garrick… Thank you for the back up and well structured reply. Hopefully we will get suitable response to our question which could explain why this phenomenon only occurs at this level in SA

    1. Editor says:

      This is not Andre Nel the trainer, for the record

  16. Pieta Louw. says:

    We have had the discussions re the local farriers in the past…..Mr Miller’s response comes as no surprise…..they are a close knit community and will defend themselves come hell or high water…..you will not convince them to do internal soul searching.
    The only way to solve this ongoing problem is for each farrier to subject themselves to international accreditation by redoing their courses under international supervision and get the certification they should have to serve the local racing…….currently they are not.

  17. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Back to the real story. We might differ on a few things, but I believe we all love horses. And what sparked this story is ‘cruelty’ to this filly. Just imagine what happens away from cameras..

    SP had a great article on the shoes. 13 Feb’19 –
    “Are our Farriers up to scratch or is it our tracks”

    It seems everyone here agrees action needs to be taken, and the so called bosses better act soonest…. This type of behavior cannot be ignored, unless the clip above is doctored….

    Good Night

  18. Casey Clarke says:

    Robbie Miller, surely you as a Professional Farrier should take into account all the variables so that when you shoe a horse it doesn’t pull a shoe.. Just wondering 🤔🤔


    Mr. Pienaar, thanks for saying it for what it is… Cruelty to an animal by an official who is hired by the National Horseracing Authority of South Africa.

    A docket should be opened for this official.

  20. jc lee ching says:

    The best road to recovery for one who drinks too much is to admit that he is a alcoholic otherwise he will just keep on drinking. In any industry or work situation the only way to resolve a problem is first to recognise that there is in fact a problem. Once that is established and confirmed then a productive plan can be formulated and implemented. Advice mus never be discarded or treated with disdain irrespective of where it comes from. Rather it should be listened to and evaluated for what it can or can’t do. The problem of horses needing reshoeing at the start is a long ongoing episode disrupting racing times, horses, punters etc.
    Here again I place this problem at the foot of the racing authorities and do not blame the farriers entirely. Surely the racing authorities should be long aware of this problem? why have they not acted? why must this gripe be aired here in Sporting Post? they should have sorted this ages ago. This does not happen in the UK, maybe they are doing something right and maybe we can learn something from them. We are never too old too learn but we can become too proud too seek advice, what a pity.

  21. Robbie Miller says:

    I’d like to apologise for my outburst, but not for the reason I replied as I did.
    I have subsequently made contact with one of the SP contributors, and will hopefully try to explain to the esteemed readership all that is involved with shoeing racehorses, and some of the variables that cause them to lose a shoe.
    As a racehorse owner and farrier for over 30 years with INTERNATIONAL qualifications and achievements, I dare say I’m well enough in a position to offer my 5 cents worth from more than one perspective.

  22. Robbie Miller says:

    One other thing,
    The original post was about an official striking a horse, not about shoe loss.
    And the two farriers I mentioned are both very dear friends and top craftsmen who as it happens, each had one of their charges lose a shoe on July day.

  23. Graham HJ says:

    Best bet of the year, they wont change a thing. The delays in reshoeing compromises the race before it has started…..but we know this. Scratching the horse will “incentivise” the stakeholders to make sure the horse is properly prepared ( why isn’t it ? ) Annoying distractions bother me especially when they can be stopped quite easily, why has nothing been done before ? According to SP’s rules I cannot accuse anyone of cheating so I wont…….maybe negligence ? I understand R Miller’s response but that does not answer the question. I will be fascinated to hear from the Farrier Assc why exactly SA has such a high rate of reshoeing compared to any other country ? As a “professional” entity surely they must see this is not good for racing and their trade ? Its in their interest to explain to us why its a common occurrence ( compared to ). Can you imagine Hamilton pulling away with every 10th wheel coming off and worse, no questions asked. Jc’s remarks could show why this disparity exists, they don’t allow it overseas……I wonder why ? Another point on this is if a horse is scratched because of a shoe then that could also be a “tactic”…..just saying….Thank you Mr Goosen for your instant response and to Garrick for defending the punters position, we don’t see nearly enough people asking the question for the punter who is busy paying for everything we see right now on tele track as near as dammit……but at what return ? Carryovers are the only source of cash for the “industry”….

  24. John Murdoch for the SAAPF says:

    Amongst the various posts it was asked that the farrier’s association respond and enlighten everyone regarding our position on this matter and shoeing horses for racing.
    Before I get going. It amazes me how quickly an incident, which we absolutely do NOT condone, totally unrelated to farriery was pounced upon as an opportunity to beat up on farriers! The person involved just happened to be a farrier and could have been anybody!

    Amongst the points raised is that the farriers in this country are a tight knit group and would never turn on each other. Sadly, this is so far from true that you all would be amazed. Farriers are notorious for throwing one another under the bus. We as the South African Association of Professional Farriers (SAAPF) are a fairly young Association and it was set up in order to get farriers all on the same page as far as conduct, education and professionalism goes. A country wide tight knit group would aid us in our objectives rather than become a body to cover up farrier misconduct! We have come a long way in our goals but many farriers still choose to go it alone and do not fall under the SAAPF umbrella or Code of Conduct. Currently we hold no sway over farriers outside of our membership. This is the reason I personally would love fo see more regulation of our profession, along the lines of what we see in the UK.

    Currently it is a bit of a free for all with no formal education or registration requirements. Owners, trainers, veterinarians, etc., could be a huge help in encouraging the loners to go for certification and to become part of the Association.

    Education and certification is another point amongst the comments made here. In brief! Some years ago we adopted the Farriers International Testing System (FITS) as our certification model. It has gone a long way to raise the standards and there is an internationally accredited farrier on the examiner’s panel at every FITS exam. Funnily enough, there is some resistance to the international examiner being a requirement at our exams, as this adds to the cost of sitting the exam. We however feel it is important to expose our candidates to top level scrutiny and will continue on the structures we have adopted. The above is a very brief description of where we stand as an Association. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] if any further information is required. We would appreciate any feedback or assistance in promoting our vision for the South African farrier industry.

    We as the SAAPF are prepared to write an article for Sporting Post in an attempt to be absolutely transparent about who we are and what we hope to accomplish as far as the position and perception of our profession goes in South Africa.

    1. Editor says:

      Welcome John
      Plse send any submission to [email protected]

  25. Robbie Dawson says:

    Pieta louw,I personally have no problem with been internationally examined and accredited of wich I have attained, but it was back in 1993,do you by any chance have an international accreditation farrier in mind ?

  26. donald bradshaw says:

    All good and well but surely the N.H.R.A. would not employ a farrier without ALL the necessary certification / qualifications so in that respect it cannot be a ” free for all ” ?

    This particular farrier as I have commented in a previous post I know to be a quite man of integrity who has been in the employ of the N.H.R.A. for a number of years and often conducts duties outside of his farrier responsibilities on the racecourse especially at the start !

    So what should the industry do :

    1. Hold an investigation into the incident and advise the outcome as soon as circumstances permit.
    2. Implement whatever disciplinary measures are required should any improper conduct be found to have occurred .

    Simple and straight forward one would assume ?

  27. Pieta Louw. says:

    Mr Dawson, sadly I can’t help you with this one. I’ve never met a farrier in my life, I only see them on TV at the start trying to fix shoes….maybe Mr Murdoch can assist you?
    Ja, 1993 seems a long time ago……

  28. Luke boucher says:

    He should be fired immediately and not be rehired in any capacity working with horses or any other animals

  29. Robbie Dawson says:

    I now see where you are coming from mr louw, this subject in my opinion is done, I thought by the way you were talking on the subject that we would all benefit but sadly not ,yes 93 was along time ago I agree but have had the opportunity to shoe probably the best horses in South Africa alongside mr Miller and mr Rivas.
    We are as only as good as the last horse we shod ,mr louw while the intention of us shoeing race horses just for the race is not practical in South Africa we are shoeing them for their career in racing ,unfortunately circumstances arise where horses pull shoes,yes we can defend ourselves for sure very easily but the bottom line is I have no idea why this happens at the course in all honesty ,is it gut wrenching yes for sure as we are accountable for that particular part of the equine ,my question therefore if it never happens abroad why do they have course Farrier’s,I spent a long time in Uk and can assure you horses pull shoes at the courses,but thank you for your input enjoy the racing hopefully we can resolve this issue

  30. Pieta Louw. says:

    Thanks for your feedback Robbie.

  31. Michael Jacobs says:

    Despite all the above commentary and “spin ” and excuses and advertising, no one has answered the question- why do so many horses in SA have to be reshod at the start? Why only in SA- hardly ever in Hong Kong, Australia, US, the UK?

    Is it poor quality shoes, skill and workmanship, surfaces? Can a farrier explain to the punters the possible reasons for shoes coming off so often in SA compared to the rest of the world?

  32. Pieta Louw. says:

    Michael, here I must admit my ignorance…..I thought that farriers would be under the NHRA rule?……In fact they seem very divided…..
    So what credentials does the daily farrier on course put forward in order to be employed…….and employed by who?

  33. Pieta Louw. says:

    And who pays the on course VET?

  34. donald bradshaw says:

    Pieta , the on course vet , farrier and all those at and involved in the start are employed by the N.H.R.A. and fall under the jurisdiction of the chief stipe for the meeting !

    Trust that answers your question ?


    May I remind Bloggers again that is just a 2y/o filly.

    It reminds me of a TV interview done by a CNN news journalist, years ago with an educator from the Limpopo or Mpumalanga.

    She said confidently, “No, No, we here in South Africa never ever punish our young learners … No, we BEEAT them!”

  36. John Murdoch says:

    Donald Bradshaw.
    Your comment, “So what should the industry do :

    1. Hold an investigation into the incident and advise the outcome as soon as circumstances permit.
    2. Implement whatever disciplinary measures are required should any improper conduct be found to have occurred .”

    It isn’t clear who you feel is responsible for disciplining the perpetrator here? He happens to be a farrier but is not a member of the association and therefore cannot called to account by us. The offending incident has nothing to do with him being a farrier so I believe any disciplinary action would fall under the jurisdiction of the NHRA by whom the individual was employed for the day.

    I’m not passing the buck here, but honestly feel an association can only hold it’s members accountable, where they have committed to a Code of Conduct.

  37. John Murdoch says:

    Apologies to Donald Bradshaw. I see a later comment from you where you clarify that those employed by the NHRA fall under the disciplinary jurisdiction of the stipes.
    Thanks for clarifying.

  38. donald bradshaw says:

    All good John , thanks for your involvement in the discussion which for some reason went from the incident on July day to why are race horses having to be re shod at the start ?

    I have restricted my comments to the incident and trust the N.H.R.A. are now busy with their investigation into the matter ?

  39. Jc lee ching says:

    I see you omitted my last comment?

    1. Editor says:

      Dont have a binned comment for you, JC

  40. André Nel - trainer says:

    It has come to my attention that a comment posted by an André Nel has created some unhappiness amongst industry players.

    Just for the record, this comment is not from André Nel the trainer but from some other guy that is very fortunate to have a great name.

    I have written to Sporting Post in the past, raising my concern that something like this is bound to happen.

    Editor please rectify this

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Andre
      Thanks for clarifying that
      We have recorded that the person is not the trainer Andre Nel
      Agreed – its a great name 🙂

  41. Cecil Pienaar (Mayor) says:

    Ek twyfel darem sterk of daar 2 William Milkovitch’s is …
    Ja, Pienaar’s en Pieta’s dalk ….

    Gore weer voorspelling vir Scottsville more.

    Winter is back, small forecast of rain, but 5 <

  42. donald bradshaw says:

    Hi Ed , looks like S.P. will now to expand your pleas for surnames to ” please include your surname and middle names , if you have more than one ” ?

    1. Editor says:

      Good point Donald! 🙂

  43. Pieta Louw. says:

    Hey Cecil, ek’s vir nou eers klaar met local racing…….Miskien weer terug na Katak se rus…….
    Sal nog international jackpots elke dag speel….. sal nog by SP inloer….
    Stay safe!

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