Top jockeys, who until recently flitted about the country in search of winners, will be allowed travel again from Friday 16 July – under certain conditions.
Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Sunday evening, the National Horseracing Authority announced that the Covid lockdown regulation confining jockeys to one “district of choice” would be eased.
The “have saddle will travel” brigade – such as Muzi Yeni, Warren Kennedy, Luyolo Mxothwa, Marco van Rensburg and Greg Cheyne – will be able to visit other centres – as long as they have had a negative Covid-19 test within 48 hours of arrival at their destination.
The NHA said in a press release that this was “in the spirit of relaxations as announced by the president”.
“The NHA has given careful consideration to the restrictions imposed on rider travel which was detailed in its release on Monday 28 June 2021. Riders have been required to elect their district of choice to ride and be domiciled in from Sunday 4 July 2021.”
The NHA added that jockeys electing to travel to other districts “will be required to produce a negative SARS-coV-2 (Covid-19) PCR test which is dated within two days of the person arriving in that district.”
It said the directive would also apply to NHA officials travelling to other districts.
“Proof of this test will need to be furnished to the office of the respective Chief Stipendiary Steward in the district concerned. Upon arrival they will have to be subjected to the normal screening protocols before taking up their riding engagements,” said the release.
“In saying the above, we urge all travelling jockeys to be extra vigilant, as an outbreak in a jockeys’ room would have dire consequences to the continuation of horseracing nationally.
“An update on the status will be provided after the president’s next address on 25 July 2021.”
Horse racing has been conducted uninterrupted in all four centres – the Highveld, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal – since 1 June 2020, following a complete shutdown of about six weeks during the first Covid wave.
“The NHA acknowledges the importance of being responsible and forging a balance of sustaining the industry and the well-being of all the people involved in it.”