Mike de Kock: ‘I Won’t Be Embarrassed’

Top trainer wades in on racing regulator debate

South African racing has had to endure another costly week under the National Horseracing Authority in a time when betting turnovers are at a worrying low.

Writing on his blog, www.mikedekockracing.com, Mike de Kock writes that two notable court judgements against the NHRA reminded us of how much of the industry’s money they have squandered over the last few years alone, to qualify and protect their legitimacy.

On Thursday, 13 May, a full bench of the South Gauteng High Court upheld an Appeal by Afresh Brands (suppliers of horse feed) against the NHRA and ordered them to deliver information, strictly in compliance with the terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA).


Mick de Kock saddles Push Off in race 3

The court pointed out that the NHRA’s belief that it could reserve a “common law right to privilege” was “misplaced” and that they had insufficient regard to the meaning of PAIA – amounting to unconstitutional behaviour.

The NHRA’s press release following this ruling was described by attorney Robert Bloomberg as ‘completely misleading and selective in its content’.

Bloomberg said: ‘It bordered on arrogance and made no mention of the fact that the NHA was ordered to pay the costs of the application (including the wasted costs of the postponement of 13 March 2018), such costs to include the costs of two counsel where so employed’.

On Tuesday, 18 May, The High Court in Johannesburg granted an order in an application brought by myself against the NHA, again in a ruling for which they were ordered to pay costs which they had tendered on a party and party basis prior to the hearing, such was the strength of my application and their lack of a defence.

In the NHRA’s media release, however, no mention is made of the costs order, while Racing Control Executive Arnold Hyde attempts to humiliate me with his wording of the release and by naming me and the horse in question.

I won’t be embarrassed by a man who has become a law unto his own, and who is reported not to care about costs at all. I will not accept responsibility for something I had nothing to do with, let alone was aware of.

Hyde consistently defaults his duties to lawmen.

This year alone, the NHRA is said to have spent in excess of R3-million on legal fees. I’d like to suggest the NHRA move their offices to Fasken Martineau in Sandton. Attorneys Nick Roodt and Eric Van Den Berg will be delighted to have their NHA team under one roof, though they will have to keep an eye on ‘Phileas Fogg’.

Hyde has not been shy to run up a pile of unnecessary travel bills to assert his authority in different racing centres. Word from the inside is that he is out of control and untouchable.

Also midweek, we were treated to a long press release from the NHRA’s offices, presumably emanating from the desk of Chair Susan Rowett and in reference to the announcement of funding support from The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) for South Africa’s racing and breeding industries.

The NHRA pounced on this one with vigorous opportunism, using a quote from Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which stated: “I also want to acknowledge The National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa which will play a key role in leading preparations for major audits by the European Union and the United Kingdom that are needed for the re-opening of South Africa’s equine market to the world.”

World’s finest racing administrator HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges

As a founding board member of SAEHP (South African Equine Health & Protocols), allow me to put something on record, and I say this with great respect to Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges, arguably the world’s finest racing administrator:

Since the inception of SAEHP, the NHRA’s support has been notably absent and sadly with no acknowledgement to the role played by Chris van Niekerk, without whose leadership and financial support SAEHP would still have been in the starting blocks.

Also, there has been no mention of the much-maligned Adrian Todd, whose role in forming relationships with the HKJC and others was essential.

It was David Abery’s idea to pitch the plight of the SAEHP to the HKJC, a stroke of genius as local funding was drying up in these tough times.

The NHRA was not exactly receptive in the collecting of a breeders’ levy to fund SAEHP without receiving a commission to do so!

I’d like to thank those who have donated to the cause and activities of SAEHP, as without them we wouldn’t have been there and there would have been no outreach to the HKJC.

Chris van Niekerk – massive contributions

Chris van Niekerk’s contributions are massive, in his personal capacity and on behalf of Klawervlei Stud.

The exceedingly wealthy NHA chair, however, is conspicuous in her absence from the list. Her own stud has received huge support from foreign buyers at various sales. Also missing are the names of those who love to throw stones without ever providing solutions to our problems. (Scroll down for List Of Donors).

The simmering discontent in SA Racing has brought the need for a Special General Meeting where the intention is to table matters contained in the notice to be addressed in due course to the NHRA’s National Board of Directors.

As you will have read, a minimum of 100 signatures is required in support of a request for the meeting.

The notice, co-ordinated by the SA National Trainers Association (“SANTA”), contains proposed amendments to the National Horseracing Authority’s Constitution.

The proposals form part of a well organised effort to attempt to facilitate change, and thus create an environment where the future elected NHRA board fully represents all participants in the industry and not where one or two individuals assume control in an autocratic manner.

I am hoping, for once, that we can stand together to bring the NHA to book as there is a vast divide between them and their members. We want to ensure a future for racing with a positive, engaged and transparent leadership instead of a dictatorship at war with its members.


  • 4 Racing
  • Bernard Kantor
  • Cape Breeders Club
  • Cape Thoroughbred Sales
  • Choice Carriers
  • Chris v Niekerk
  • Dr Andreas Jacobs
  • Drakenstein Stud / GA Rupert
  • Equine Sales
  • Foal Levy
  • Gold Circle
  • Kenilworth Racing
  • Klawervlei
  • Kuda Holdings
  • MA Currie
  • Mauritzfontein
  • Michael Javett
  • NM Shirtliff
  • Phumelela
  • Racing Association
  • Ralphs Racing
  • Rennie Price
  • Ridgemont
  • SA Trade Council (import levy)
  • Shadwell Stud
  • The Thoroughbred Breeders Association
  • Thoroughbred Racing Trust
  • Wilgerbosdrift

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