FOLLOWING Government’s announcement to extend the COVID-19 Lockdown to the end of April, there have been numerous meetings of the Racing Operators, the Racing Association and The National Horseracing Authority over the Easter weekend. The following update is hereby provided:
Targeted Resumption of Racing
On the assumption that the extended national Lockdown is lifted AND that racing is permitted to resume with adequate betting revenues flowing to the Racing Operators, the plan is to recommence racing on Friday, 1 May. To this end, The National Horseracing Authority is in the process of making a coordinated representation to Government on behalf of the South African Horseracing Industry to enable such resumption after Lockdown is lifted, under whatever Government restrictions are implemented.
In the Western Cape, racing will now resume on Saturday 2 May (alongside Turffontein), with the first legs of the 3yo Winter Series (Variety Club Mile and Sweet Chestnut Stakes), together with the Klawervlei Farm 2yo Sales race, moved to this day and the race programme amended accordingly. This will enable Gold Circle to move their night meeting on Friday 1 May to Sunday 3 May. Gold Circle confirms that during the period May to July there will be no night racing at Greyville and these meetings will be moved to alternative days.
In the Eastern Cape, the lost East Cape Nursery (L) will be rescheduled for Friday 1 May, and the second and third legs of the World Sports Betting Poly Challenge will be relocated to 8 and 25 May respectively.
Depending on the Government regulations applicable after the lifting of the Lockdown, it is likely that we will have to resume racing “behind closed doors” (possibly with even tighter restrictions than before) with only essential participants allowed to attend race meetings. Given this, and the unique logistical challenges involved in staging racing at Flamingo Park, a decision will only be taken to resume racing in Kimberley once the government’s directives post lockdown are known.
It is common cause that the Racing Operators’ businesses have been under significant pressure of late for several well documented reasons. This has been further heightened by the national Lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 containment measures implemented by Government. During this period virtually no revenue has been generated whilst the Racing Operators have had to continue funding their operations. This includes a significant effort by the Racing Operators, The National Horseracing Authority, the Racing Association and all stakeholders to keep the training centres operational under strict access control and sanitization protocols.
It has been agreed nationally to reduce the MINIMUM stake thresholds for Pattern and Feature Races as follows :-
The necessary communication with the Asian Pattern Committee in relation to the amended stakes levels and new dates for the Pattern has been provided by The National Horseracing Authority.
In addition, minor races stakes will be run at reduced levels in all regions with a single stake for all minor race categories per region as follows :-
The Racing Operators are acutely mindful of the devastating impact this stakes reduction will have on all participants in the sport and are committed to increasing these stakes levels as soon as they are able to. Phumelela and Kenilworth Racing are extremely grateful to the Racing Association for their support, without which these minor stakes levels would have been significantly lower.
The Racing Operators and The National Horseracing Authority are addressing all other areas of their businesses too, not least of which how their staff are treated during this challenging time. In line with Government guidance and directives, staff who are either not required or unable to work during the Lockdown period, will be placed on annual leave as appropriate.
The National Horseracing Authority has also agreed to reduce the Racing Operators’ levies (the primary funding source of The National Horseracing Authority) by 50% for the months of April, May and June.