Vaal Mixed Identity – Transporter Sets Record Straight

Let's hope we learn from this incident

A representative of a leading racehorse transport company has come out in defence of their sector of the industry after it was suggested in an article published last week that the confusion over the incorrect horse arriving at the Vaal on 6 July had originated in the movement of two fillies – one  from Philippi, and the other from Fairview, to Turffontein.

“People make mistakes, nobody is perfect. Be humble and rather admit mistakes, then learn from them,” suggests Karen Choice after responding to an article entitled ‘Confused Identity – Transporter Mixed Horses Up’ which was published on the Sporting Post on Wednesday 12 July 2023.

According to evidence led in an inquiry conducted at the Vaal on Thursday 6 July, where trainer Tony Peter was charged with a contravention of Rule 72.1.45, it was accepted in argument that the two horses Golden Sickle and One Fell Swoop were probably mixed up by the transport company who delivered them to his stables.

This deduction now hardly appears conclusive.

Mrs Choice was forthcoming in providing a detailed logistical map of the path of the two fillies, which suggests that the blame for the confused identity could well lay elsewhere.

For the record, the identity stickers have horses name, pick-up point and delivery point recorded on them.

According to information provided, this was the calendar of the delivery:

  • One Fell Swoop – filly, collected from Snaith yard, Philippi, WC on 8 June 2023
  • Tuscan Gold – gelding, collected from Eric Sands, Milnerton, WC on 8 June 2023
  • Golden Sickle – filly, collected from Kelly Mitchley, Gqeberha, on a different float on 8 June 2023

The Driver of the Western Cape float recorded in his notes:

“Miss X met float at loading ramp, took groom to horse One Fell Swoop, and she placed sticker on horse”

At Fairview, Trainer X , who was looking after Golden Sickle, states:”Had correct sticker on, correct name & delivery point”

The two floats, the one carrying the filly and gelding, and the other the filly, then link up at Bains Equestrian, Bloemfontein, a stop-over utilised every day for the past fifteen years by the company.

Records show that Driver 1 arrived in Bloemfontein from Gqeberha at shortly before midnight on 8 June and Driver 2 arrived in Bloemfontein from Cape Town in the early hours of 9 June.

Driver 2, who was designated to travel on to Johannesburg, allowed the horses to have a break in a stable as is normal practice. He then left Bloemfontein a few hours later the same morning.

The three horses were delivered to Tony Peter’s stables at Turffontein early morning on 9 June.

Mrs Choice summarizes her concerns, including the fact that the trio were at the Turffontein yard for close on a month, yet blame is placed on the transporter.

She also says that the NHA conducted the inquiry, accepted finger pointing about the transporter, yet failed to make any contact with them to obtain the facts.

She also feels that the Sporting Post didn’t ask her for facts and that the company’s reputation may have been tarnished. The Sporting Post can record that the name of the company was never mentioned in our editorial, and the ‘involvement’ of the unnamed transporter was information we accepted in good faith from the NHA.

We thank Mrs Choice for providing the more detailed information, including the fact that the two fillies originated at stables 1000km apart, and carried the stickers all the way through to the delivery point. This certainly appears to exonerate the transport company from blame.

Another admin checkpoint in the movement process appears to have not been mentioned. A transfer of inventory form needs to be completed at the outgoing and incoming stable within two days of the horse movement.

This form requires the passport details and microchip number, and includes an undertaking by the trainer that the horse has been correctly identified. It is not known whether this form is simply filed by the NHA and whether it serves any purpose, beyond being a paper tiger.

It is probably also high time now that every racing yard in South Africa purchases a scanner, which we believe costs under R2000.

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