MIKE de Kock has hit out strongly at the export protocols that force horses to spend 147 days “on the road” before they are allowed to enter Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore, reports JACK MILNER.
“It is mind-boggling that after 111 days of quarantine and isolation, 21 days in South Africa and another 90 days in Mauritius, we still can’t go directly into Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. “We are allowed to go directly into European Union countries and put our horses into training immediately,” said De Kock following a trip to Mauritius to keep an eye on his 12 horses in transit.
“After 111 days how can we still be a risk to our trading partners? “To illustrate the inconsistency and stupidity of the system, if you want to send a horse from Dubai to England on a temporary 90-day visit, they can go directly into the UK. However, if they stay for 91 days or longer, they first have to go into quarantine for 30 days.”
De Kock expressed his concern about the welfare of the animals. “They go into quarantine at 4pm, two hours before sundown, and are only allowed out at 8.30am the following morning. During that period we are not allowed to go in and check on the horses, top up the water and feed. That results in a lot of stress – on myself, on my staff and, in particular, on the animals. “The facility is very nice but I would really be loath to put a horse through this again.”
For De Kock there is absolutely no logical reason why horses cannot be moved directly from Mauritius into Asia and the Middle East. “They’re treating Mauritius as if there is African Horse Sickness on the island. Just because they have midges does not mean they have Horse Sickness. They also have mosquitoes but it doesn’t mean they have malaria.
“We are not transporting horses from farms riddled with disease. They are coming out of a top-class facility. These regulations are absolutely Draconian. They are holding back job creation and revenue creation for the Government as well as holding back our thoroughbred horse industry.
“The biggest disaster for the South African horse industry is to export AHS. That would be suicide. So it’s time to cut us some slack. After all, we are more concerned about horse sickness than they are.”
De Kock’s horses in Mauritius are Igugu, The Apache, Soft Falling Rain, Emotif, El Estruenoso, Shea Shea, Royal Ridge, Kavanagh, Amanee, Jet Legend, Mushreq and Final Button. Dancewiththedevil is also with the group but is just under De Kock’s care. “She will go to a trainer to be decided by St John (Gray) when we arrive in England. It’s his choice but I’m hoping he will go to William Haggas because of his association with South African racing,” said De Kock.
The facility in Mauritius includes an 800m round sand track on which to canter. “We can maintain a certain amount of aerobic fitness. They are doing well, I’m pretty happy with their condition and in fact, they’ve probably put on a bit of weight. “Climate-wise this is a good time in Mauritius. It will get very hot later on.”
By the time she is ready to run Igugu will have been out of racing for a year. “I have not raced Igugu since the J&B Met in January while Soft Falling Rain’s last run was in March. I would have loved to have run him in Durban during the season and gone for the Grade 1 races with Emotif.”
De Kock is still hoping that one of South Africa’s trading partners will have the strength of character to see sense. “I can only hope it will open up in May or June and we can return to normal,” said De Kock.
Headline photo: Igugu in Mauritius.