The horse race meeting scheduled to be staged at Fairview Racecourse in Gqeberha on Friday has been cancelled due to a Covid-19 outbreak and will be replaced by a meeting at Greyville in Durban.
The Fairview meeting was called off because of a lack of available jockeys in the Eastern Cape, following a ban on riders from elsewhere in the country travelling to the province.
A National Horseracing Authority press release on Monday morning read: “A number of confirmed Covid-19 cases forced the NHA to restrict the movement of jockeys into [Eastern Cape] province and ensure that people who came into contact with those who tested positive are placed in isolation.”
A quick headcount of jockeys domiciled in Gqeberha showed that there were not enough of them to host the scheduled meeting on Friday.
KwaZulu-Natal racing operator Gold Circle stepped in and agreed to put on a meeting at Greyville, on the Polytrack, to replace the lost Fairview fixture.
At this stage, the meeting at Fairview on 3 September is still scheduled to happen – in anticipation of the jockey travel restrictions being lifted by then.
The NHA said “a number of riders” were among the “significant number of confirmed cases reported in the industry at Fairview Racecourse”.
Various licensees were also affected and urgent intervention was needed to curtail the spread of the virus to other horseracing centres, “which could have devastating consequences on a national basis,” said the NHA.
The authority said it would allow jockeys and officials from the Eastern Cape to work in other racing centres under the strict conditions of previous travel bans – including having to produce a negative SARS-coV-2 PCR test dated within two days of the person arriving at his or her destination.
This would cover race meetings from Wednesday onwards.