Sport » Horses
Horseracing’s lockdown rules have been shuffled following the government’s decision to move to Level 2.
Notably, jockeys are now permitted to travel freely between racing centres – with the irrational restriction of just one provincial switch a month mercifully a thing of the past. This means the best riders in South Africa are available to partner the cream of the country’s horseflesh at the star-spangled Gold Cup meeting in Durban on 29 August.
Sadly, though, racegoers are not yet allowed back onto courses so, as with the Durban July, the Greyville action will take place in front of empty grandstands. Only owners and essential stable staff
and officials will be there and Tellytrack will bring the thrills to the rest of us in our lounges, betting shops and pubs.
Other lockdown changes include restrictions on field sizes being scrapped and the off time of the last race at a meeting being pushed out from 4.45pm to 9.30pm.
A National Horseracing Authority media release said: “Further relaxations may be implemented in conjunction with the status of the coronavirus pandemic, together with any positive changes to
the government’s adjusted risk strategy.
“Although the Covid-19 pandemic has now reached its peak in South Africa, the scientific and worldwide statistics have also shown a resurgence of the virus after same has been achieved in other countries.”
One hopes the racing authorities heed their own health and medical advice, especially in the matter of race day ambulances. First there was the Keystone Cops comedy of an ambulance siren going off immediately after the start of a race at Turffontein last week, with most of the jockeys believing it to be a false start and temporarily easing up, resulting in the race subsequently being nullified.
Then there was an ambulance “noshow” at the Vaal on Monday this week – blamed on an administrative foulup – that saw the whole programme being delayed until MediRescue could be whistled up.
Sporting Post worked out the odds on two ambulance cock-ups in a fortnight at 911 to 1.
If racing fans aren’t already dazed and confused by all the changes and chaos, a rejigging of the Kenilworth programme for this month might do the trick.
The heavy rain in Cape Town and a waterlogged track has seen yesterday’s meeting moved “lock, stock and barrel” to Saturday. The card for the fixture that was originally scheduled for that day will
be shunted to next Wednesday, with the card for that meeting shuffling along to a “new” meeting the Saturday after next.
Also, the advertised times for yesterday’s meeting will be changed for the new Saturday slot – with the first off at 12.35pm and the ninth and last at 5.20pm.
The media release from racing operator Phumelela stated: “The reason for the added Kenilworth race meeting on Saturday, 29 August is as a result of the spate of abandoned meetings/races of late
in the Western Cape. This is permitted in terms of the Racing Operators’ National Abandonment Policy in situations like this.
“With all the race meetings that were missed due to the Covid-19 lockdown, owners have already had limited opportunities to race their horses and this will ensure they do not lose any further race meetings.”
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