I’M at Dubai International Airport about to fly back to South Africa after a fantastic meeting earlier tonight at Meydan (13 February 2014). It’s party time with friends and family at home this weekend and I have many reasons to be happy, though a sense of frustration grips me every time our runners win so well here in Dubai and in other parts of the world.
Tonight, South African breeders produced three high-class winners at a single international meeting – showing for the umpteenth time that they can compete with the world’s best. Yet the draconian protocols that prevent us from shipping bloodstock directly from South Africa to the various racing jurisdictions abroad, remain firmly in place with apparently no light at the tunnel’s end.
The existing export restrictions stipulate that horses shipped from South Africa have to spend a potential health threatening 147 days en route to Dubai and elsewhere. This includes a 50 day residency period in Mauritius where they are locked in their stables from 4pm to 8.30am with only an early morning feed and then 40 days in quarantine with a spell in the UK where severe climate changes have to be dealt with.
Our results at this Dubai meeting were spectacular. If the racing world doesn’t wake up after this, I don’t know what it will take to get them fully behind us. Our stud farms breed high quality bloodstock at the most affordable prices and our results get better every year.
The three South African-breds won in top company at the world’s richest racing extravaganza, proving their class and versatility. Variety Club, our dual Horse Of The Year, franked his form with an easy Gr3 win, first time out on foreign soil and a new racing surface. Vercingetorix, an unbeaten Gr1 winner in SA, stepped out winning after his long travels and Sanshaawes underlined the strength of our form with an easy victory on the all-weather track.
While we continue to face our opposition with consistently excellent results, the South African racing industry is severely hampered from competing on equal terms with the rest of the world. We don’t have many friends, and there is no help forthcoming. There’s a group of influential decision-makers purposefully standing in our way. We’re held back by opinion, not by science and it’s patently wrong!
Just imagine the heights we could reach if we were allowed to export our bloodstock within reasonable times, in line with the rest of the racing world. As it stands, our ability to compete on the racetrack and in the sales ring is limited.
Racing’s power players should be helping us, but they’d rather roll stumbling blocks in our way. As the moment we’re treading water. We need individuals with clout at decision-making level to open the doors and with that the floodgates for our industry. This will lead to huge foreign investments in our bloodstock, job creation and more internationally recognised achievements.