Horseracing operator 4Racing has started the historic roll-out of a major Transformation Initiative to improve the working conditions and welfare of Grooms, including the upgrading of Grooms accommodation, provision of funeral cover and medical benefits, and a ground- breaking Grooms Trust that will give Grooms and Stable Hands a considerable stake in the 4Racing business.
When the Competition Commission approved the transaction between Phumelela and 4Racing on 31 March 2021, 4Racing made a commitment to contribute to the transformation of not only the organisation, but the horse racing industry as a whole.
In December 2022, the Competition Commission approved the implementation of the 4Racing Transformation Initiative, which will see a 26% shareholding of the company apportioned between a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Trust (BBOS), the beneficiaries of which will be Grooms and Stable Hands, and an Employee Share Ownership Programme (ESOP) being established for 4Racing employees.
4Racing has appointed an independent Trust Administrator to handle the establishment and administration of the Grooms and Employees’ Trust. A total of 16% of the company’s shares will be issued to the Grooms and Stable Hands’ Trust (BBOS) and 10% to 4Racing Employees (ESOP).
“Grooms are one of the most crucial parts of the horse racing industry,” said 4Racing Chief Executive Officer, Fundi Sithebe.
“They are also traditionally, the most marginalised stakeholders.
“This landmark approval by the 4Racing Board of the funding for the Grooms Trust initiative is a massive moment in the history of South African horseracing. The Grooms Trust will genuinely empower Grooms and Stable Hands and we are extremely proud of the progressive steps being made to improve the holistic living standards of these very important stakeholders, as well as by the formation of the Employees’ Trust.”
Medical and Funeral benefits
An experienced medical services and insurance provider has been selected to provide cost- effective and accessible funeral cover and medical insurance that meets the needs of Grooms, and has already started conducting a benefits registration campaign for Grooms and Stable Hands, starting at Fairview Racecourse.
This will be followed by similar registration drives this month at the Randjesfontein training facility as well as the Vaal and Turffontein Racecourses.
The Grooms and Stable Hands’ benefits have been driven by a collaboration between 4Racing, trainers and owners, and the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), which has committed considerable funding in support of the Grooms initiatives.
ROA Chief Executive Officer, Natalie Turner, said partnering with 4Racing on the Grooms’ welfare initiatives was absolutely critical.
“We are mindful that we need to strike a balance between stakes maximisation for owners, and playing a meaningful role in bringing about change and transformation in the industry,” said Turner.
“In this particular case, improving the welfare of Grooms and Stable Hands is a key and critical element. This partnership is a powerful message of change and collaboration within the horseracing industry.
“We look forward to participating in this initiative, jointly supporting Grooms and transforming lives,” said Turner.
Upgrading of Grooms Accommodation
The 4Racing Board commissioned a property solution company to conduct a thorough assessment and investigation into the state of the Grooms accommodation at all 4Racing’s racing and training facilities.
The findings were that the Turffontein Grooms’ lodging was in need of renovations and that the accommodations at Randjesfontein and Vaal were well-maintained and that no immediate action was required there.
The company will renovate the existing Grooms’ accommodation at Turffontein and work on the eight-month project has already begun, with a number of Grooms currently moved to temporary accommodation while their living quarters are being renovated.