April 2017


I suppose that one of the headaches of the Trainer is to find a good groom and holding on to that gem. Similarly, it is with us at the NHA and our Handlers.  Grooms and Handlers are our UNSUNG HEROES. The POWER OF ONE Groom is immense in preparing the racehorse for its moment of glory. It’s a very tough life for a groom as most stables start very early everyday of every month.  It’s not possible to train racehorses properly without the right grooms who are all vitally important to the wellbeing of the racehorses. The horses can often be highly strung, nervous, intimidating and stroppy.  Therefore they require grooms with the right personalities to deal with them and guide them towards Peak Performance. As much as the Trainer is a critical part of the racehorse’s preparation, so is the groom.

An insensitive, unskilled, disinterested groom can easily scupper the career of a potential champion.  They have to monitor the horses’ eating habits, digestion pattern, temperature, injuries, etc. All critical in the preparation for the big moment, ensuring that the horse looks good and is in good shape come race day.  The Handlers on the other hand have a tough task on race days to guide the groom’s and Trainer’s product into the starting stalls.
They get to know the horses’ personalities after a few races but they have such limited time to ensure all the horses are lined up – hot headed or soft hearted.  The long and short of the grooms and the handlers is that they all share the passion, but are not always included in the pride.  We all have the same passion, the same purpose. Let’s develop as one team with one dream, to make racing an exciting, fair and enjoyable sport.

The POWER OF ONE person can lead to an outstanding champion.

Article by:  Lyndon Barends – NHA Managing Director


In April 2017, the NHA donated R6000 to the Lymphoma SA charity & Second Chance Syndicate, in the fight against cancer. 

Below, Melanie Texeira tells her story....

Campaigning for Cancer NPC, through it’s LYMPHOMA SA PROJECT, was selected as the beneficiary at Ladies Race Day 2016.  The raising of funds for LSA is extremely close to my heart. In 2015 I was diagnosed with Lymphoma.  Through research I realized that there was an urgent need for a platform in creating awareness, education and support for those suffering from the disease and their family/ caregivers.  Hence the birth of LSA in 2015.  In 2016 I was introduced to the CEO of C4C. C4C are the only members of the World Lymphoma Coalition in Africa. It was decided that LSA would partner with C4C in May 2016. LSA would benefit from the relationship of C4C and the World Lymphoma Coalition and the NPO, PBO and BBBEE status of C4C.


Little did I know that in 2013 when The Flaming Flamingo Syndicate was formed that I would meet a wonderful group of ladies. A group of ladies who would play a supportive role in my life when I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2015. We had great fun supporting Zubs (our name for him).

Attending the races, lunching together often, celebrating his achievements.  One of our ladies, Kathy Finch, who runs marathons, reached out to the ladies requesting their support/pledge in her “Running for Mel” initiative, when running back to back marathons in Boston and Chicago. The response was overwhelming. This was the deciding factor for me to register LSA and to give back and make am difference in those peoples lives who are less fortunate than I am. Although I was unable to attend Ladies Race Day in 2015 I was offered a share in Spending Spree.  To date, 2 runs with 1 of them being a win. The filly which was donated by Klawervlei for auction on Ladies Race Day 2016 was unnamed. It took a matter of minutes to decide on a name for her - SECOND CHANCE, a Twice Over filly. Most importantly I have been given a second chance at life. The Second Chance Syndicate is a group of 9 ladies with 7 of them being members of The Flaming Flamingo Syndicate.

Article by:  Melanie Texeira

Banned substance guidelines for riders:

Similar to the requirement for horses, there are substances which are not allowed to be present in riders at the time of the race. With horses substances which could affect the physical performance of the horse are of most concern.  In contrast, with riders the concern is with substances which may impair the judgement of the rider on the track and in this way compromise the safety of both riders and horses.  While the term “prohibited substances” is linked to horse specimens, the term “banned substances” is used for rider samples.  As to screen for these substances, rider urine samples are collected during race days and these are sent to the NHA Laboratory for analysis.  These substance classes are detailed in Rule 77.2 of the NHA. As to assist riders in complying to this rule, the NHA has a “Rider Banned Substances Guideline” in place. The most recent “March 2017” issue of this document
 is formally being issued to all riders and this can be found on the NHA Laboratory website.
The list of substances and their prosecution concentrations are similar to those which apply to airline pilots, operators of very heavy equipment and drivers of public transport vehicles. Substances of concern fall into two broad categories, recreational drugs and therapeutic substances.  Recreational drugs (drugs of abuse) are known to cause mood changes, dissociative behaviour and to have mind altering effects. These include the well-known Cannabis (dagga), Amphetamines, LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), PCP (Phencyclidine), Cocaine, GHB (Gamma hydroxybutyric acid), Heroin and Morphine.  Therapeutic substances  form part of “over the counter” preparations and also prescribed medications as to treat particular conditions.  The document serves as a medication guideline to riders and their health care providers on which preparations contain such banned therapeutic substances. At high doses many of these substances have similar effects to that of alcohol such as a loss of balance, unsteady gait, slurred speech and a poor ability to concentrate.

These can therefore be detrimental to the judgement and abilities of the rider. Substances in the latter category include barbiturates, benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine-like substances. These are often prescribed for anxiety and for abnormal behavioural.  A special mention is provided for Codeine. This substance is found in many readily available medicines such as headache tablets, for the treatment of mild to moderate pain.  Codeine is however metabolized to Morphine, a potent analgesic which is also well known to impair mental and physical performance.  Within the current guidance for riders it is specified that a normal and single dose of a Codeine containing preparation must not be used one full day prior to the day of the race. It must be noted that Diuretics are banned in riders as these cause an increased water loss through urination.  These have in the past been used to reduce the weight of the rider by increasing water excretion, often to the point of severe dehydration.  Dehydration of the rider is dangerous on the racetrack (resulting in confusion and poor judgement) and is detrimental to the health of the rider as it can result in damage to the kidneys.

At the track, and prior to the first race of the rider, testing for alcohol level is conducted by means of a breathalyser.  The concentration of alcohol in a specimen of breath should not exceed more than 0.024 milligrams per 100 millilitres.  If the rider disputes the result, a second, different breathalyser test is conducted using a different device. If this also provide a reading exceeding this level, the rider shall not be permitted to ride during the race meeting.

Article by:  Dr. Schalk de Kock

The Veterinary and Equine Welfare Unit of the NHA would like to bring your attention a few recent rule changes that have been published in Volume 116 Issue 38 of The Racing Calendar.  Additional limitations and exceptions have been integrated into race day treatment regulations and subsequently disallow the administration of any medications other than those listed in Appendix N under the exempted substances list and those authorised by the Chief
Executive. Trainers are urged to revise this list. Below is a list of newly authorised substances that may be administered on race days:

  • Ammonium Chloride Salts
  • Vit B1
  • Calcium
  • Homeopathic bleeder preparations

Trainers are advised to take care in using any preparations that may contain potential  prohibited substances. Another addition to the rules is that a horse may not race for 7 days following intra-articular corticosteroid treatments. The 7 day period includes the day on which the horse was treated and implies that a horse which is treated on a Saturday may be raced on the following Saturday. The ongoing monitoring of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) as published in the Stud Health Scheme will continue.  Thoroughbred breeders are reminded that annual testing of ALL stallions at stud is compulsory. Foals that are sired by a stallion that does not have a valid CEM certificate will not be registered and/or be deregistered. This yearly testing is to assure that we are in line with the regulations of Government’s Department:  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Such continued testing is essential to potentially recognising Thoroughbreds in South Africa as CEM-free.

Article by:  Dr. Jesse Jones