There was reason to celebrate for sport lovers on Thursday when Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, confirmed that all professional non-contact sport would resume in the country from Monday, 1 June.

The news was particularly pleasing for the South African horseracing industry and those fans of the sport of kings.

The National Horseracing Authority (NHA) of Southern Africa was quick to confirm that horseracing would indeed resume from 1 June behind closed doors, while adhering to strict protocols.

Leading SA trainer Candice Bass-Robinson, daughter of famed former trainer Mike Bass, said, “It’s a massive relief to be able to race our horses again. I am so proud of how our industry has come together to support all those in need during this trying time, now we can all get back to thrill and exhilaration of the races, but more importantly to safeguard our horses and so many jobs from the grooms to the farmworkers.”

Bass-Robinson, who after 20 years as assistant trainer to her father, took the reins as head trainer at the Milnerton-based Bass Racing stables in late 2016, added: “During this trying time, the industry’s governing body has gone through a total transformation restructure, and the future prospects for the industry look bright. We have taken quite a hit, and it will take some time to recover, but we will get there. Let’s hope it’s not too long before the other sports follow suit. Racing has survived two world wars and the devastating equine influenza, and it will continue to survive and support all those who love these majestic animals so much.”

The following strict rules and protocols shall be applicable once horseracing resumes:

– The field sizes will be restricted to 12 runners per race with the exception of all Pattern races in which 14 runners will be allowed

– Jockeys will be restricted to ride in the region of their choice and cannot move in between provinces. They will be allowed to make ONE move prior to the commencement of racing

– The adjusted minimum riding weight in handicap races shall remain at 54kg

– Horses moving between regions shall NOT be allowed unless a horse is moving to another province on a permanent basis as per the regulations of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

– All Horse Transport Companies must have the necessary Permits to move horses between the training centres and race courses

– The last race must be run not later than 16:45

– Persons with comorbidities shall not be able to attend

After a 63-day racing absence, Thursday’s news was welcomed by Mark Bass, the Racing Manager and head of Marketing at Bass Racing.

“It’s great news for the industry. The horse racing industry supports over 60 000 jobs through its economic wheel, and to have it turning again from 1 June means much-needed economic consolation within the industry,” said Bass, the sister of Candice and son of Mike.

“Although the protocols mean only essential staff will be permitted on-course and spectators and owners will not be able to attend, we’ll take it,” a grateful Bass told Sport24.

For those wanting to dabble, betting will also resume (online only) and horseracing fans will be able to watch their equine heroes in action on DStv channel 239.

Let’s go racing!


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