May 2017

The Equine at heart

Inspired by feedback from the recent International Forum of the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR) conference

True racing enthusiasts are all anxious that the leaders of the industry provide guidance and insight on attaining the vision of an effective and sustainable aftercare programme for the racehorse. While there are industry differences on how to enhance the Thoroughbred aftercare, there is common agreement that it needs to take centre stage. There is a worldwide sensitivity that it’s high time that we raise the awareness, improve education on lifetime horse care, and increase the demand for former racehorses in other equestrian disciplines.

South Africa is no different and we at the NHA decided that this should be one of the three strategic objectives of our Vision 2020. We will consider, like Australia, to have written protocols for postracing options, which are enhanced using non-racing agreements that include the location and condition of all racehorses from birth to death. Australian racing authorities initiated the shift to full traceability in 2014 and the concept is gaining traction as the enlisted population grows. It’s unlikely that we will be able to afford to follow the good Japanese example. Japan has had an “honoured horse” status programme for retired winners of Japanese graded stakes races that provides lifetime support subsidies at retirement sanctuaries. Despite the affordability issue with this recommendation in our environment, we have to anchor our programme around activities with initiatives such as retraining, injury rehabilitation support, and an increased public availability for education and integration into the country’s existing equine programmes. Likewise, France is focused on promoting the Racehorse Aftercare to the large number of licensed equestrians (approximately 700,000) within the country by way of demonstrations of the different career tracks these horses have taken, as well as social media education. 

The success stories of horses such as Nutello, who competed successfully in France and was a poster child for the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover, demonstrate the possibilities. A very useful consideration for the NHA to focus on nearly immediately is one of setting standards, as done by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). It provides an opportunity for the NHA to be committed to accreditation of aftercare facilities by establishing facility standards and services to meet the needs of each horse and education on humane aftercare for Thoroughbreds.  There are of course many ways to implement an aftercare programme, but it’s important to start with earnest and to compile a masterplan for implementation. To this end I believe it’s important to once again employ a consultative approach with the various industry stakeholders. Stakeholder attitudes toward welfare assessment may impact the implementation of welfare assessment practices. Focus group discussions regarding welfare assessment needs to be conducted with stakeholder groups: breeders, horse owners, caregivers, veterinary surgeons, trainers, and professional riders. The views of equine industry members will hopefully give insight into the value welfare assessments may have to the industry and how equine welfare assessment approaches canachieve credibility within the industry and increase the positive impact of welfare assessments on equine welfare.  We are cognisant of the good efforts of so many people in the industry and we are thankful for these efforts but we need a co-ordinated approach that will hopefully earmark a sustainable and exciting way forward. In the interim let’s keep on telling the good stories and not only the unfortunate examples.

Article by:  Lyndon Barends – NHA Managing Director

Vodacom Durban July Fever has begun in KZN
The KZN Racing season is officially underway with a huge amount of focus on the upcoming Vodacom Durban July, to be held at Greyville on Saturday 1st July 2017. Nearly 60 000 people head towards Greyville to experience the “July Fever”, and it’s not all about the horses! It is a fashion and entertainment extravaganza whereeverybody wants to be seen. Even non-racing folk know this race as the“July” but over the years the name has undergone several changes. It was known as the Durban Winter Handicap from its inception in 1897.  In 1928, it became the Durban July Handicap, but once again reverted to its original name during the war years; from 1943 through 1945. Reinstated as the Durban July Handicap in 1946, the race stuck with this name until 1963, when Rothmans entered the sponsorship arena. The race was known as the Rothmans July Handicap until 1989, when the conditions for the race were changed.  Thereafter it was simply known as the Rothmans July.  Rothmans was reluctant to end its association with this great race but the new tobacco laws of the country forbade it and as a result the longest running sponsorship of a major sporting event came to an end after its 38th year in 2000. 2001 saw the race being run simply as the Durban July and in 2002 Vodacom announced its powerful association with Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, now entrenched as the Vodacom Durban July.

In terms of numbers, the maximum field size was increased in 2003 to 20. However the biggest July field ever was in 1917, when 33 horses went to the start. On the other hand, the smallest July fields were in 1897 and 1908, when only 7 horses ran. A 2000 metre all-weather “polytrack” was constructed inside the existing turf track in 2014 which effectively narrowed the turf track with the result that the field size was reduced from a maximum of 20 in 2013 to 16 in 2014.  Could the winner be picked purely on lucky numbers? Luck and intuition has a lot to do with finding a winner and particularly if you were a rugby enthusiast in 1960. In an international rugby match the Saturday before the Durban July Handicap that year, left wing Hennie van Zyl scored both tries for the Springboks wearing the number 13 jersey and the final score was 13 - 0.  You guessed it.....One week later
“Left Wing”, wearing the number 13 saddlecloth, won the Durban July Handicap.

All South Africans should have picked the winner in 2004 when South Africa celebrated 10 years of democracy and to mark this milestone all horses wearing the Number 10 saddlecloth in any race staged by Gold Circle for the entire year, carried a South African flag incorporating the number 10 on their saddlecloth. As if to frank this milestone, the 2004 Vodacom Durban July, was won by “Greys Inn” wearing the Number 10 saddlecloth proudly emblazoned with the South African flag (Yard Arm was the favourite that year).

Article by:  Julie Wilson - NHA Kwazulu Natal

1ST Year Apprentice Jockeys
Yuzae Ramzan is a 16 year old 1st year Apprentice at the South African Jockey Academy, who hails from Lorraine, Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. Yuzae has a small but close and very supportive family that includes his Mom, Dad and big sister. Yuzae previously attend Alexander Road High School before joining the Academy and enjoyed participating in the schools many sporting activities. Yuzae’s loves playing many sports, but soccer is his favourite sport and he is an avid Liverpool fan. Yuzae wanted to be jockey from a young age as he used to go watch horseracing with his Dad at Fairview racecourse and was always impressed with the skill and athleticism displayed by the jockeys. His favourite jockey is Anton Marcus, who he feels is both a very successful jockey and good role model for aspiring apprentice jockeys.

Jabu Jacobs is a 16 year old 1st year Apprentice at the South African Jockey Academy, who comes from Petrusville near Kimberley in the Northern Cape. Before joining the Academy Jabu attend Petrusville High School in his hometown and enjoyed it because all his friends that he grew up with went to the same school. Jabu lives with his Granny and has a small family that includes his Mom, Dad and big brother. Jabu is soccer crazy and loves to play as a midfielder, locally he supports Orlando Pirates and internationally he supports Chelsea. Jabu was attracted to the sport of horseracing due it it’s fast paced action and is favourite jockey is Muzi Yeni, who he admires for his unique riding style, positive attitude and tenacity!

How the filly HANABI (winner of Race 6 on Sun 21 May 2017) lost her eye
The Oldlands Stud-bred daughter of Var lost her eye in an accident with the branch of a tree as a youngster, but her impaired vision has not been an obstacle in her ability to run.  “Eric Sands and his owners lease her from me and it was very good of him to try with her. We could not have sent her to a sale. I am thrilled and she is so typical of this game and gutsy family,” said a happy Mrs Barbara Sanne after the race. Lucian Africa had HANABI out quickly and despite the attentions of Scandola and China Pearl in this inside group, she galloped on resolutely.  The year younger unbeaten Trippy filly LOVE TO BOOGIE came out to challenge at the 200m and looked a winner, but a determined HANABI and jockey Africa weren’t going down without a fight and they held on to win at 25 to 1 by 0.30 lengths in a time of 72.06 secs. 

NHA Laboratory Corner
The NHA Laboratory has the responsibility to annually screen in excess of 6000 urine and blood specimens and samples from horses and riders for prohibited, forbidden and banned substances.  Some interesting, juicy statistics related to these analyses include:

  • About 1 500 litres of urine is received.
  • About 14 000 collection bottles are handled.
  • These are contained in 1200 metal specimen boxes.
  • About 50 000 metal security seals are used.

To extract and detect many hundreds of substances, very low level high quality chemicals and solvents are required:

To protect the sample and the substances against oxidation about 38 000 kg of liquid nitrogen is used annually.

About 300 litres of forensic science high purity methanol and acetonitrile are used annually for extraction and instrument analysis at a price of R280 per litre, it is more expensive than a 10 year old brandy (which we do not get to enjoy in the Laboratory).

We thrive on our many quality and racing compliance policies and procedures:

There are 25 formal policies, 124 procedures and 30 methods to comply with, which total 495 pages.

For traceability and record keeping the ISO17025 quality compliance system requires the storage of:

520 reams of paper annually and such records must be stored for 6years for auditing, adding up to a total of 1 560 000 pages in storage.
2 288 gigabytes/ year of data is generated from instrument raw data and result files.

Article by:  Dr Schalk de Kock - NHA Laboratory