THE shipping of a number of horses from Mike de Kock’s stable from South Africa to Dubai for the 2012 Racing Carnival remains in the balance.
Mike stated on Monday that his runners will definitely not be leaving South Africa if they are not allowed to depart from Cape Town under what would be revised export protocol conditions.
He said: “I am not going to put horses like Igugu, Mushreq and Safwan through the long and tiresome process of being shipped via Mauritius and spending more than 150 days to get to their destination. If they can’t fly from Cape Town to get there within reasonable time, they won’t go at all.”
“Our administrators and veterinarians have done everything in their power to make a solution possible. A new diagnostic test for African Horse Sickness is available which gives a “yes” or “no” answer for the existence of the virus within two hours of receiving a sample. This Real Time PCR test has to be accredited by the the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health).
“There is no scientific evidence to support the current protocol, yet it remains in place and we are essentially stranded. As things stand now Dubai’s loss will be South Africa’s gain as our top runners like Igugu will remain at home.
“South Africa’s best thoroughbreds have added great value to the Carnival over many years and I trust that the authorities in Dubai will make sound, rational decisions to everyone’s benefit. One can compare this to viewing a glass as being half full or half empty, the empty part being the protocol as it stands now and the full side representing the prospect of intelligent, sensible people putting their heads together to help South Africa.
“The existing situation will have grave consequences for the racing industry’s trade with the rest of the world and it will result in a loss of income across the board, loss of jobs and in fact a loss of revenue to the South African government. It is up to our trading partners, who have to show the scientific and political will to assist us.
“We in South Africa have always been open and transparent in our handling of and reporting on AHS. We deserve a lot more credit and cooperation, especially in the light of recent developments. What we need is a little more willingness from our trading partners so that we can resolve this hugely important matter once and for all. It can be done.”
”We’re hoping that good sense will prevail. Besides Igugu and other runners owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, we have a horse like Mushreq which is a UAE Derby prospect for Sheikh Hamdan next season.”
There is still a chance of a satisfactory outcome and Mike added: “Even if nothing is finalised in the next few months, we’ll prepare our runners in the hope that a direct flight from Cape Town to Dubai will be approved and facilitated even as late as January 2012, with a minimum period of quarantine at home.”
Peter Gibson, CEO of Racing South Africa, noted last week that there has never been a case of AHS in South Africa’s AHS Free Zone and Kenilworth Quarantine Station was a world leader in vector-protection.
The current even more strenuous export protocol for our horses was the consequence of an outbreak of AHS in the AHS Surveillance Zone in February, meaning exports from Kenilworth Quarantine Station were temporarily suspended.
The South African Veterinary Services reported the last confirmed case on 3 May and officially declared the outbreak over on 23 June or 40 days after the last case which is in line with the OIE’s accepted infectious period for AHS.
South Africa has officially applied to the UAE and other trading partners, including Qatar and Singapore, for a limited number of direct shipments from Cape Town’s AHS Free Zone during the vector-safe time of the year (winter months) when the culicoides midge which transmits the virus has been killed off and, therefore, the risk of importing the virus had gone.
Photo: Mushreq (blue silks), good Dubai prospect. (Gold Circle).