Trip To Heaven But No Trip To Cape Town

De Kock even suggested that we stop importing horses

Trip To Heaven

Trip To Heaven

Saturday’s Gr2 Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes had looked to be one of the sprint races of the year, with some of the country’s top sprinters from around the country set to do battle over Kenilworth’s testing 1200m.

However the race lost some of its interest, not to mention an intriguing inter provincial clash, when Gauteng raider, Trip To Heaven, was a forced scratching.

The talented sophomore, winner of the Gr2 Stronach Group Racing Merchants last time out, had been priced up favourite for the sprint, but was a late withdrawal from the race, as a result of protocol governing the movement of horses from Gauteng to Cape Town.

The withdrawal of such a talented young sprinter was a sad blow to what is one of the Cape’s top sprints of the season and, sadly, Trip To Heaven does not look likely to be the last Gauteng horse scratched from a major Cape race as a result of the current ruling.

Understandably, Trip To Heaven’s trainer Sean Tarry was upset by the ruling preventing his star 3yo from competing in the Cape feature.

Sean Tarry -

Sean Tarry – frustrated

Sean said ” I was not granted a travel permit and was threatened with a possible suspension should I send my horses down. Do the powers that be therefore have the right to suspend the horses, who pose no threat to Cape based horses? I fail to see why, when the likes of Igugu and Pomodoro can be stabled (when subject to daily veterinarian checks) in the Cape, there should be a problem travelling horses into the Western Cape. As things stand, there seems no reason that Trip To Heaven, who has tested negative with the PCR test, should not have competed. The horse had been vaccinated at the right time to travel to Cape Town and should not have been a problem.”

Sean had previously sent the likes of Pomodoro and The Hangman to Cape Town, under similar circumstances – with no subsequent negative effects.

The state vet who had put sensible travel protocol in place previously has been criticised for not having had the authority to allow horses from restricted areas to travel -even though, past horses in similar situations had competed successfully in the Western Cape, without having comprised the free zone.

With a precedent having been set it would appear to make no sense to change the rules for this case, and it would appear a lack of judgement has been displayed by people who should know better.

It is hard to believe that more weight has not been given to the PCR test. The test is a fair indicator for AHS testing, so why question the result? The current attitude towards the PCR test would appear to be that of “heads I win, tails you lose.”

This latest setback for horses travelling down from Gauteng also represents a body blow for South Africa’s image in the all too judgemental eyes of the EU. It is hard to imagine that the EU, whose current policies have made exporting South African horses extremely difficult, will make life any easier for the export of South African bred horses when it is plainly seen that the self-same horses are unable to travel freely even on a local basis.

Sadly, guidelines have been misinterpreted as rules and seemingly have been applied with more rigidity than common sense. This is also likely to play a detrimental role in South African horse racing, if Gauteng horses cannot come to Kenilworth and challenge the best of the Western Cape horses.

Another leading trainer who expressed frustration at the state of affairs regarding AHS restrictions is former champion Mike de Kock.

Mike de Kock

‘Does anybody know what is going on?’- asks Mike De Kock

In a recent interview on Winning Ways, de Kock is quoted as saying ” This is ridiculous. We can’t even move horses around our own country, how can we expect the rest of the world to take us seriously? Does anyone know what is going on? What are we telling the rest of the world? We can’t even rely on our own test. What is the EU doing for us? They are restricting our trade. We should be developing our own systems, we should stop pandering to the rest of the world. The only solution is to get direct protocol between SA and Dubai. “

De Kock even suggested that we stop importing horses from countries who boycott South Africa and lack direct protocol between the countries. The former champion also mentioned the possibility of China and Russia, but dismissed the EU, who continue to make export of SA equines an impossibility.

Read more here:

Whatever the solution, it is clear that the current status quo bodes ill for everyone involved in the horse racing industry, and the sooner a viable and practical answer can be found the better. Not a moment too soon!

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