Vee Moodley, CEO of the National Horseracing Authority (NHRA), must have felt on Tuesday that he was playing a part in Vic Sarin’s 2001 movie The Waiting Game.
It was reported last week that the NHRA was hopeful a government decision on the resumption of horse racing would be made by April 28. However, by 2pm Moodley had heard nothing.
In a media statement, he said: “Our understanding is that the ministers at the National Coronavirus Command Council will be deliberating our submission over the next 48 hours and we are hoping for an outcome on or before April 30.
“Our fate lies in the hands of government — the outcome will be disseminated as soon as we receive it. We understand the anxiousness, uncertainty and fluid nature of the circumstances.
“In the interim, the racing operators will perform all prerace administrative work for the race meetings on May 1, 2 and 3, subject to the positive outcome of our submission,” said Moodley.
One of the main points in the submission to the government was that the industry employs more than 60,000 people, 5,000 of whom are grooms, who are unlikely to easily find jobs in other sectors.
It goes without saying that the “in-tray” for ministers of the National Command Council will be overflowing with more important issues than horse racing.
However, late on Tuesday came news that the meeting scheduled for Flamingo Park on May 4 had been abandoned due to interprovincial travel restrictions.
As a result, the planned meeting for Fairview on May 1 — should the sport be given the green light — would be moved to May 4.
Cliffie Miller, a leading trainer at Flamingo Park in Kimberley, on Tuesday painted a dismal picture in a social media post. He said: “Trainers at Flamingo are in dire straits and I can just hope we get through, for we had our last income on March 23.
“Mike de Kock [now a director of the Racing Association] is doing his utmost to see where he can get some relief for us and owners. We applaud him.”
Meanwhile, the NHRA will hope the resumption of racing in other countries could influence the decision here. New Zealand is the latest country to give the sport the go-ahead.
In a statement, New Zealand Racing stated: “It is important that every one of our racing participants continue to play their part in ensuring workplaces are safe for everyone, and this includes maintaining social distancing and proper hygiene practices.”
After negotiations between France Galop and the French government, it has been announced that racing will resume on May 11 though no foreign jockeys or horses will be allowed at least until the end of May.
In Europe, there has been a step-by-step easing of some lockdowns. Austria announced on Tuesday that hotels would be allowed to reopen at the end of May.