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Export Lobby – Cash Tap Could Be Turned Off

'We must stop punishing ourselves' - Freeman

If the authorities don’t take the current warning from an industry tired of hollow promises and financing what feels like a decades long pipe-dream, stakeholders will have no option but to take action itself and cut off ‘this huge cost’.

Veteran Bloodstock man John Freeman is the latest internationally respected racing figure to stand up and say enough is enough.

Writing in his weekly eNews, Freeman who has a half century of experience in the industry, says that he has been reading the latest about the export protocols saga.

I don’t get it: why would we want to continue punishing ourselves like this.

I started the export council  many years ago (called SAHIEC in those days) and with the help of our then Chairman Paddy Wilson managed to get protocols established with the Malaysian Racing Authority who controlled exports to Malaysia and Singapore.

We then got Hong Kong open in time for London News to fly direct to win the QEII.

Subsequently a tragic incident in which draft horses were brought into the Free Area by someone at Lanzerac caused a shut down.

Ever since then it’s been a hell ride. Every promise made along the lines of “it’s about to happen” is like the fairy at the bottom of my garden, doesn’t exist. It’s been going for about 20 years now.

I have no idea what this has cost our industry in direct investment.

I can’t begin to quantify what it has cost owners, breeders and trainers in terms of added costs like not being able to move horses freely (the stop overs each horse moving to the Cape has to endure), the cost of health certificates for movement, blood tests, the revenue lost to stallions for cancellations because of movement restrictions – we lost several valuable bookings this season again – and the costs of just running the business of application.

We are talking about hundreds of millions – I think it could easily run into seven figures, like millions.

That’s a helluva lot more than the R50m reported to be the value of our annual export market. It’s been a nice dream but the dream has become a nightmare and we just can’t afford it anymore.

We know that it’s very difficult and punishing to export via the current route through Mauritius but it works.

We have to accept that as a compromise because I don’t believe that the EU will get here in the near future so we must stop pouring much needed resources down a bottomless pit.

The game is tough right now. We need to make tough decisions, difficult as that has to be. Every rand wasted on continuing this foolish hope is too much.

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4 comments on “Export Lobby – Cash Tap Could Be Turned Off

  1. Geoff Woodruff says:

    I fully agree with you John, in twenty odd years I have seen no progress with any sort of export protocol. I believe that we need to clean up our own backyard first and get our industry profitable here before we start dreaming of overseas racing. First prize would be make our racing here strong enough again to make one even consider it necessary taking a horse overseas to race.

  2. percy0393 says:

    Lets face it, the unknown factor is Australia’s influence on the EU, yet we continue buying horses from Australia. I will apologise if I’m wrong but someone has to prove that to me. The Asian market is the profitable market and that’s we need to be which is Australia’s target market..

  3. Paul Garlicki says:

    Enough is enough , we ve been living in fantasy land for 20 odd years , let’s just carry on doing our own thing and try to get SA racing and breeding back on track

  4. Tony Mincione says:

    Australia’s influence against us? We bred 2,500, they bred 13,000. We have 2,200 owners and they have 82,000 owners. Hopefully we stop embarrassing ourselves by blaming other nations. Even if we did export, is that a top 30 horse market (say the whole Guineas/Met field)? It’s absurd to make a racing and leisure horse industry pay for a few thoroughbred owners and breeders.

    If Mr Lotz’s letter is correct, the R1,000 per horse bred is R2,500,000 p.a. income for starters, plus whatever other fees, donations and contributions. The expenses are for owners and leisure riders to vets paid for someone elses’ export protocol.

    It is a huge annual hemorrhage that common people pay so that the royalty can jet-set.

    Imagine if we had re-invested the R100 million our racing business and infrastructure instead.

    Here’s the joke: if the protocol is smashed today, tomorrow is just like every other day for the last 20 years…but without the bill. I hope the right decision is made “imminently”.

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