Lockdown: Two Sides Of The Welfare Coin

'Intervention needed - it's no use crying on 17 April'

Horse welfare needs to be taken into consideration by government and racing bodies in any decision that would see the halt of racing.

Last week we published the appeal of a leading trainer who implored the NHA to take the lead and get trainers to open their books and provide lockdown contingency plans.

Another trainer subsequently countered this view and took exception to the ‘insulting’ suggestion.

NHA CEO Vee Moodley told us on Monday it’s an impractical request, given limited staff resources but that the racing regulator would continue to carry out their supervisory duties.

NHA CEO Vee Moodley – doing his best with limited resources

The welfare aspect is not a poser restricted to us.

According to the dailytelegraph.com.au, Robbie Griffiths, president of the Australian Trainers’ Association, has suggested that shutting down stables would become a major animal welfare issue with some 4000 thoroughbreds who “will still need to be fed and watered”.

He advised the issue applied equally to other codes, pointing out that, as is the case with quarantine centres, human movement is controlled in training centres.

“You can’t lock the gates on stables. The same people who are with the horses now will still be with them then. You can’t close it down. Even if they all go spelling people need to feed them,” observed Griffiths.

“Horses don’t carry the virus. Cats and dogs still need to be fed as do horses. We can’t afford for the horses’ sake to shut the doors.”

This was echoed by a local leading trainer, who responded to our Vee Moodley interview published on Monday by suggesting we should be finding solutions, ‘not making excuses’ and it was a time for leadership to be displayed.

“Mr Moodley knows as well as us one can’t wait for government to get us out of trouble. It is very easy for each trainer to send along his debtors list and the NHA can start the ball rolling.”

It was pointed out that the NHA also has each and every colour holders details at their fingertips.

“And why I am badgering on about it is because we are not a factory who can close the door like the NHA is doing. In a time of crisis we have to keep going – and where is the feed coming from? Perhaps they need to send a general newsletter to the owners and make recommendations for the future of the horses in trainers’ care should they not be able to pay them and have a rescue plan in place.  Or ultimately we all lose our jobs – every other country in world racing is telling us what they can do – not what they can’t! We cannot start sobbing in 21 days time and we know it is not going to end there!”

Waiting for government to wave a magic wand is not the answer

A different view is taken by trainer Leon Lotz, who told the Sporting Post that the call by the ‘almighty trainer’ who wants everybody’s books opened is out of line and is offensive to himself and his owners and breeder.

“It sounds like this individual is a policeman.This lockdown is going for 3 months and when people we know start dying, like all the trainers and grooms that are at massive risk,what will you then write about? I really want to ask you to write positive things now and think before you upset people. The NHA is in any case not the law of the country and why will you want to risk officials visiting studs and trainers to open their so called books?”

Mr Lotz said he had posted the original article on Facebook and ‘the return is not in the Sporting Post article’s favour’.

“Ask this king of a trainer to rather offer help in the tough times ahead if he is still going to be alive. I will tell you that 99% of the industry loves horses very much and they will look after them with everything they have left. It is not his place to question other people’s integrity. He is making the industry look even worse. I have nothing to lose and this one will not go by without a fight!” he concluded.

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