Export Protocols – Stop Flogging A Dead Horse

Thirty years and many millions of rands later...

Cape-based Bloodstock Consultant and Stallion Manager John Freeman has been involved in racing and breeding for over 45 years. 

He asks in his latest  eNews whether someone would please just push the pause button on the costly never ending dream of an export protocol.

With all that is going on around us right now the last thing we need is unnecessary cost and risk in the Cape.

I have mentioned this before and alluded to protocol issues contributing to the cancellation of the KZN Yearling Sale.

The cost of getting a horse to the sale is one thing. The cost and risk to Cape buyers or breeders who didn’t sell of getting a horse back is in excess of R15 000 per horse.

John Freeman – ‘time to face reality’

This includes blood tests, a stint in quarantine and two sets of transport. The cost forced on an ailing Cape Racing and Breeding industry, and the risk has become too much. Our breeding season looms.

Solution: move the quarantine station away from the Cape – please.

Let some other region give it a go. Alternatively at least move all sales to where horses are predominantly bred and not have them forced into this migration and return to Joburg.

Thirty years down the line, after many promises, hundreds of millions wasted, usually around sale time, ‘it’s happening’ about being asked to allow ‘just one more try’, time is up – it has to go!

We can’t afford it anymore!

It’s time to look after SA racing and in this instance Cape Racing and Breeding. Move it or pause the protocol.

Too many broken promises: ‘just one more try’ every year.

I know that the HKJC have kindly agreed to subsidise the running costs of the operation.

But that’s only a fraction of what this programme really costs owners, trainers and breeders daily. The ‘hidden’ extra costs of keeping our end of the rules and inconvenience.

It was a nice dream and a really good idea when it started; I kno, I was at the coalface. The current failed system has run its course.

Each time a horse moves into the Cape everyone has to jump through hoops.

Even taking mares from Wellington to Robertson and vice versa is an inconvenience and costly; movement requires a health certificate and state approval – apart from the cost of getting a vet, try and get the  state to respond to a movement request after 15h00 on a Friday!

If the rumour I hear about new vaccination rules is true we won’t be able to move mares around at all for some time.

African Horse Sickness Sign

It’s time to let the dream of an export protocol remain just that, as it has been for the last 30 years.

When do we finally admit that it’s not going to happen! I said that 15 years ago and have said it many time since;  it seems to me that the way this system is presently designed is surely the problem!

At the very least please take this responsibility away from the Cape and rethink the way forward – dong more of the same and expecting a different outcome is a fools game.

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3 comments on “Export Protocols – Stop Flogging A Dead Horse

  1. Peter Wrensch says:

    Absolutely John.
    Pipedreams are costly and out of touch with realistic outcomes.
    Every week trainers have to do movements for gallops and races.
    Every month trainers and vets have to submit signed forms.
    Trainers and vets must ensure that 4 monthly visits occur.
    That costs.
    Then to raid trainers have the additional burden of forms, vaccination checks and submission to an authority that is clearly overwhelmed and incapable of the commensurate support.
    In Cape Town we are blessed with Marie Van Der Westhuizen and her colleagues who try really hard.
    But the reality is that responses and applicable approvals do not arrive timeously and trainers resort to chasing up answers.
    There is enough in logistical preparation for a raid without this burden and concern that leads to irritation and then anger.
    In April I had to push to receive verbal approval despite submissions over a fortnight prior.
    Before departing PE it is incumbent on the trainer to get vet checked and approved to return to Milnerton.
    From experience – we had to wait for the vet to arrive last year – I spoke with the obliging course vet at Fairview on arrival.
    Both vets were outstanding.
    However, they had not received the appropriate paperwork and throughout the afternoon we were trying to obtain these.
    Throughout the afternoon, despite whatever the vets did, the transporter was receiving calls that we had to meet the vet.
    This had been done at noon and why wasn’t the trainer phoned?
    The authority had my number too!
    Way after the final race the vets received the forms, signed and we were able to depart.
    TWO HOURS later than planned.
    By the time we reached Mossel Bay for our scheduled overnight stop it was after 23h00.
    Our hosts were compromised and staff working in late difficult conditions.
    The question: who is actually benefitting from these futile measures?

  2. Garrick Bergh says:

    I could not agree more with John Freeman.

    For years I have listened, watched and read with mild amusement as an endless succession of industry insiders have prattled on about our world class (sic/lol) South African horses that the racing world was eager to get its hands on.

    Let’s start at the beginning – I remain adamant that at almost all distances beyond a mile SA horses are, with very rare exceptions, moderate at best by true international standards. (I have never forgotten seeing London News – the ‘pride of South Africa’ – have his brains blown out by a margin of 18(?) lengths in the UK courtesy of a filly called Bosra Sham. That’s probably where we still really stand in competition with class horses over classic distances internationally).

    I don’t see any buyers from the USA, France, Japan or the UK waiting to buy for their domestic market unless we are talking about them racing at Wolverhampton or Southwell in low grade handicap races on artificial surfaces. Perhaps the East or some as yet unheard of destination might be an option once the weak rand has been factored in and has rendered the animal a ‘bargain’ by any monetary standard.

    Promoters of the export protocols love to prattle on about ‘What it would do for South African racing’. Am I entirely wrong in seeing only an immediate migration of any horse with even a modicum of talent? How does that help our local ‘game’? To me it would merely foster additional disinterest by further diluting the local racing population.

    Since the 1970s South Africa has almost wilfully bred stamina out of our bloodstock. I am no expert on breeding but it seems to me that without the ‘Oppenheimer Family’ influence through stallions such as Fort Wood and Ideal World we might already be considering reducing the distance of the July & Met (which are hardly great tests of stamina!) to shorter distances to make these races accessible to the greater body of the racing population.

    Something is very wrong with our breeding fundamentals. I wonder to what extent the recent ‘Hawwaam incident’ stands as a mute testament as to just how moderate our horses really are by international standards?

    John Freeman is right – we need to stop leaking funding on ‘nice to have projects’ and re-build South African racing from the ground up. Starting with the quality of the horse we breed. If the strategy is to sell rubbish overseas and then somehow re-invest the proceeds in quality it seems a strange way to go about it! Rather follow the Japanese example and acquire the best breeding stock and develop from there. By my guess this is a 5 generation task so I won’t be around to see it!

  3. Geoff Woodruff says:

    John echoes the sentiments of most of us involved in the racing industry in SA. The farcical protocols required to race horses out of province are onerous, to say the least, and have caused more harm than good to the industry in my humble opinion. Racing was much more user friendly pre horse sickness protocols and good horses were able to compete around the country with little bother thus strengthening the value of Gr1 races. Nowadays one wonders whether it’s even worth the effort to race a horse outside its own province unless you consider it to be a July or Met horse. I have held a trainers license for 32 years now and have been subjected to this nonsense for the past 24. I feel, like John, that it’s time to do what’s right for racing in SA and forget about this pipe dream of competing internationally. We managed to export horses long before these draconian measures were in place so let’s rather go back to that.

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