The National Horseracing Authority confirms that an Inquiry will be opened into Jockey Muzi Yeni’s comments made in an interview after Race 4 at Greyville Racecourse on 31 July 2019.


The National Horseracing Authority has just been advised that, in the International Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program conducted during 2019 by the Association of Official Racing Chemists, its Laboratory has again obtained a perfect score of 100% in detecting prohibited substance at the required sensitivities in blind urine as well as blood specimens.

In a separate International Testing Program over the last 12 months, negative NHA racing specimens were re-analysed at several overseas racing laboratories. This external testing confirmed that these specimens did not contain any prohibited substances. The NHA Laboratory also achieved a perfect score of 100% in this program.

The National Horseracing Authority’s Laboratory complies with the ISO/IEC 17025 which is the world quality standard for chemical and biological testing laboratories and it complies with the racing standard ILAC-G7 (Accreditation Requirements and Operating Criteria for Horseracing Laboratories). In this regard, it is audited annually by the South African National Accreditation System.

The Laboratory acts as a confirmatory laboratory for racing jurisdictions such as France, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom which clearly demonstrates their confidence that it can confirm prohibited substances which their laboratories detect.

In discussing the Laboratory’s achievements Vee Moodley, the Chief Executive of The National Horseracing Authority, said, “Our laboratory, despite its modest size and limited budget, is internationally respected for its standards and capabilities. It has the demonstrated capability of confirming the presence of prohibited substances which can be found by the other top equine forensic laboratories in the world. People involved in racing, both locally and internationally, can be assured that our capabilities are world class”.


As previously reported, The National Horseracing Authority collected blood samples from Vodacom Durban July runners on Friday, 5 July 2019.

These blood specimens were analysed by the NHA Laboratory and were all reported as prohibited substance negative specimens on 25 July 2019.

These blood specimens were comprehensively screened for substances which are indicative of Anabolic Steroid, ACTH, Growth Hormone and Erythropoietin (EPO) use.

  • World Sports Betting Champions Cup (Grade 1)

RAINBOW BRIDGE remains unchanged on a Merit Rating of 124 after his victory in the Grade 1 World Sports Betting Champion Stakes at Greyville on Saturday 27 July.   The Handicappers used the three-year-olds SOQRAT and TWIST OF FATE as the line horses to rate this WFA event, which in fact sees RAINBOW BRIDGE (who hung badly down the straight) running to 122, but his rating has been left unchanged.

The line horses remain unaltered.  Fourth placed CIRILLO drops from 121 to 119, whereas fifth placed BUFFALO BILL CODY was upped from 114 to 115, which is what he actually achieved when winning a pinnacle plate in his last start.  In the only other change, MATADOR MAN was cut from 112 to 111. 

  • The Mercury Sprint (Grade 1)

KASIMIR has had his Merit Rating increased from 117 to 118 after he captured the WFA Mercury Sprint over 1200m at Greyville on Saturday.  Here, the Handicappers agreed that ultra-consistent BOLD RESPECT was the correct line horse to use in assessing the race and as such his rating remains untouched on 112.  Runner-up CELTIC SEA was also left unchanged on 115.

Third placed PALACE CHAPEL was increased from 107 to 112.  Fifth placed AFRICA RISING and sixth placed VAN HALEN also both go up to 112, from 107 and 110 respectively.  The only other change was to last placed VISION TO KILL, who was dropped from 105 to 102.

  • The eLan Gold Cup (Grade 3)

DYNASTY’S BLOSSOM has seen her rating increased from 93 to 99 after she captured the Grade 3 eLan Gold Cup over 3200m at Greyville on Saturday.  Here, runner-up MADE TO CONQUER and third placed DOUBLEMINT were both used as line horses, so accordingly their ratings remain unchanged.  In rating the race this way, GIMME ONE NIGHT also runs to his rating and effectively becomes a line horse as well.

Fourth placed ALI BON DUBAI was upped from 92 to 95, while the only drops were made to the ratings of STRATHDON and SECRET POTION, who both drop to 99 from pre-Gold Cup marks of 101.

  • Gold Bracelet (Grade 2)

RUNNING BRAVE remains unchanged on a rating of 104 after she held off all challengers to win the Grade 2 Gold Bracelet for fillies and mares over 2000m at Greyville on Saturday.   Here, third placed INSIGNIS and fourth placed SABINA’S DYNASTY were used as the line horses and accordingly remain unchanged.  On the other hand, runner-up CAMPHORATUS goes up from 105 to 108.

Fifth placed ROY’S RIVIERA was increased from 97 to 99, while in the only other change sixth placed LADY IN BLACK was dropped from 110 to 108.

  • Marshall Security Darley Arabian (Handicap)

PILOU has had his rating increased from 97 to 99 after he won the Listed Marshall Security Darley Arabian (handicap) over 1600m at Greyville on Saturday.  Third placed SILVA’S BULLET and fourth placed RUN RED were used as the line horses and remain unchanged, while no change was also made to the runner-up ELUSIVE HEART.

Drops were made to the ratings of D’ARRIVEE (90 to 89), Sniper Shot (102 to 100), and THANKSGIVING, who dropped from 102 to 98.

  • Epol Umngeni Handicap (Listed)

SUNSET EYES has had his rating raised from 100 to 105 after his easy success in the Listed Epol Umngeni Handicap over 1000m at Greyville on Saturday.  Consistent runner-up FILIPPO was used as the line horse here and as such his rating remains unchanged.

Third placed NEPTUNE’S RAIN was dropped from 102 to 101, while in other drops ATTENBOROUGH goes from 102 to 100, KISSABLE was cut from 83 to 81, and TOWNSHIP MELODY goes from 89 to 87.


 • Final Fling Stakes (Grade 3)

PLATINUM CLASS remains unchanged on a merit rating of 98 after her comfortable defeat of five rivals in the Grade 3 Final Fling Stakes for fillies and mares over 1800m at Kenilworth on Saturday 20 July. The Handicappers felt that the consistent runner-up LIBRA was the correct line horse to use, and so she remains unchanged as well on 89. In rating the race this way, the winner in fact runs to only 94, four pounds below her rating of 98, but PLATINUM CLASS did achieve 98 when winning a Listed race three weeks earlier and so remains on that mark.Third placed GLAMOROUS LIFE was raised from 78 to 81 and accordingly would meet fourth placed PEARL JAM (whom she beat by four pounds here and who remains unchanged on 77) on the correct terms if they were to meet in a handicap. In other changes, MISS KATALIN drops from 91 to 88 and CORAL BAY goes from 84 to 81. 

• Champagne Stakes (Grade 3)
NASTERGAL has seen her rating upped from 88 to 93 after she won the Grade 3 Champagne Stakes for fillies and mares over 1200m at Kenilworth on Saturday. Here the Handicappers applied some discretion, for in using runner-up OSTINATO as the line horse NASTERGAL actually runs to 95. However, the race was run at a crawl in the early stages and NASTERGAL was enterprisingly ridden to pinch a break at the right time, and it is felt that she is probably flattered by the bare numbers. Hence, she was given some leeway.
OSTINATO as the line horse remains unchanged, while third placed CROWDED HOUSE was upped from 77 to 83 (a rating she raced off for much of the early part of the current season.) Fourth placed TOO PHAT TO FLY was dropped from 94 to 91, which is the only other change made to any runners in this race.


Over the past few seasons it has been observed that a general decline in the Merit Ratings of South African domiciled horses was occurring, and that the trend has continued despite the “blanket” six pounds raise to all Merit Ratings which came into effect in March 2018. This is particularly true at the lower end of the spectrum, where some 75% of the horse population are rated 72 and below. The above observations were discussed extensively during the 2019 Handicappers Roadshow.

Effects of the Guidelines and Slippage Factor:

In large part, the problem of “slippage” in the overall Ratings has been exacerbated by Handicapping guidelines which were designed to severely limit increases in horses’ Ratings thereby ‘protecting’ improving horses and which in turn, as a compensatory measure, resulted in a more vigorous approach towards dropping the Ratings of struggling horses in a bid to equalise the Handicapping as much as possible. This practice resulted in 75% of the Horse Population being rated below 72 thus causing an extreme imbalance (or congestion) in the National Merit Ratings Pyramid and consequentially to the National Race Programme.

Current Handicapping Philosophy:

Since January 2019, the NHA have adopted a more accountable and pure Handicapping philosophy by reverting to, where possible, assessing horses on their performance and not on other (often irrelevant) criteria as promulgated by the Guidelines, but the damage had already been done. This current philosophy of handicapping horses more accurately in terms of their actual achievements should ensure that there will not be such a rapid decline in the overall Ratings again in future and, where possible (except where local operators conditions limit the Handicappers), a horse’s published or official Merit Rating would reflect the Handicappers’ assessments of a horse’s ability.

National Horseracing Population Merit Rating Adjustment:

Accordingly, it was proposed by the NHA Handicapping team, and largely agreed upon at the Roadshows, that another increase in Domestic Merit Ratings be considered in order to balance the Population’s Merit Ratings and the Race Programme as well as alleviate any further degeneration of the Population’s Merit Ratings. This proposal was ratified by the National Board and will come into effect on 1 August 2019. It has been agreed that the Domestic Merit Ratings of all horses domiciled in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape will be increased by 10 pounds.

Eastern Cape:

Horses domiciled in the Eastern Cape will have their Merit Ratings increased by 5 pounds. This decision was taken in light of the Eastern Cape racing centre being a victim of the ‘creep factor’. An Eastern Cape horse will be defined, for the purposes of the adjustment, as any horse domiciled and trained in the Eastern Cape that has had two of its last three starts in Eastern Cape.

Northern Cape and Zimbabwe:

The same definition of what constitutes domiciles will be applied to horses based in the Northern Cape and Zimbabwe, but no increase will be implemented in the Merit Ratings of horses in those regions.

Merit Ratings and the Race Programme:

This increase will have the highly desirable effect of uncluttering the lowest divisions as well as helping to boost the higher divisions, where races often attract small fields or fall away altogether due to insufficient entries. Horses at the bottom of the Ratings’ spectrum will also find it much easier to get into races than is presently the case, where they are regularly eliminated or have no option but to contest races which are too strong for them. The National Race Programme, as confirmed by the Racing Operators, will be adjusted to accommodate the impending Merit Rating increase and should ensure a balance between the Merit Ratings and the National Race Programme.

International Merit Ratings:

It should be noted that the increase will only affect Domestic Merit Ratings and not the International Ratings of South African trained horses. The International Ratings of South African trained horses are done by the World’s Best Racehorse Ratings Committee.

Handicapping Methodology and Updated Guidelines:

A Handicapping Methodology Guide as well as the updated Handicapping Guidelines will be published by the NHA on implementation of the abovementioned National Merit Rating increase.


The National Horseracing Authority (NHA) is the custodian of the results for thoroughbred races in South Africa and Zimbabwe. It was ratified by the National Board of the NHA in May 2015, that stakes earned by horses competing in restricted races are excluded from the national statistics. As a result, this ruling applies when determining the CHAMPION BREEDER, CHAMPION STALLION and CHAMPION TRAINER. The decision to exclude the stakes of restricted races from the national statistics was motivated by the view that such races may potentially influence the log positions based on its “closed” nature. The same rule applies to bonuses linked to all sales.

Restricted races are defined as those in which participants are confined:

i. to horses born or raised in a particular area or are the progeny of stallions of a particular area; or

ii. to graduates of specific sales; or

iii. to horses selected on the basis of some arbitrary criteria.


The above does not apply to owners and jockeys, as all owners have the right to buy and compete where they want to and that jockeys are at liberty to accept engagements as and where they wish (open). As a result, restricted race stakes are included for owners and jockeys. 


List of restricted races

  • Emperor's Palace Ready to Run Cup (CTS)
  • Ready to Run Stakes (Presented by Cape Thoroughbred Sales)
  • The CTS 1200
  • The CTS 1600
  • KZN Breeders Million Mile
  • KZN Breeders 1200
  • KZN Breeders 1200 F&M
  • KZN Breeders 1600
  • KZN Breeders 1600 F&M
  • KZN Breeders 1900
  • KZN Breeders Juvenile Plate
  • KZN Breeders Fillies Juvenile Plate
  • KZN Yearling Sale Million


The top 5 rankings as of 08 July 2019, excluding the above noted races are as follows:


Champion Owner (incl. restricted)

1. Mr C J H van Niekerk R15 ,030 ,913
2. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum R 12,101,788
3. Mrs S Plattner R 8,070,225
4. Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert) R 7,614,938
5. Messrs N Jonsson, B Kantor & Late W J C Mitchell R 5,102,500


Champion Trainer (excl. restricted)

1. Mr S G Tarry R 24,636,825
2. Mr S J Snaith R 22,347,663
3. Mr M F de Kock R 22,344,063
4. Mr B J Crawford R 13,244,700
5. Mr A C Greeff R 11,668,863


Champion Jockey (incl. restricted)

1. Mr L Hewitson 201
2. Mr M A Yeni 195
3. Mr A Marcus 182
4. Mr G J Lerena 162
5. Mr G M Cheyne 148


Champion Breeder (excl. restricted)

1. Wilgerbosdrift & Mauritzfontein R 27,557,163
2. Klawervlei Stud R 19,835,888
3. Summerhill Stud (Pty) Ltd R 15,595,600
4. Highlands Farms Stud (Pty) Ltd R 13,229,263
5. Varsfontein Stud R 11,369,950


Champion Stallion (excl. restricted)

1. Silvano (GER) R 20,261,425
2. *Captain Al R 15,729,938
3. Var (USA) R 13,439,588
4. Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) R 12,890,213
5. * Dynasty R 12,664,525

 *deceased stallion

Visit the NHA website for the detailed list. 

  • Vodacom Durban July (Grade 1) 

DO IT AGAIN has seen his rating increase slightly from 125 to 126 after he won the Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July for a second year in succession at Greyville on Saturday, 6 July.  In a finish that was dominated by the two highest rated horses in the field, it was decided that runner-up RAINBOW BRIDGE was the correct line horse to use when assessing the race.  There is plenty of form this season between the two, who are clearly the best older horses currently in training by some margin, a fact which was again reinforced by this result.  Being the line horse, RAINBOW BRIDGE remains unchanged on 124.

In the unfortunate absence of HAWWAAM, it was left to TWIST OF FATE to emerge as the best of the three-year-olds in third place.  He was the highest rated three-year-old to actually contest the race and his rating also remains unchanged on 117.  Fourth placed EYES WIDE OPEN ran to his rating of 109 in spite of meeting with some trouble in running and his rating therefore obviously also remains the same.

Several drops were made to horses who finished unplaced.  DIVINE ODYSSEY goes from 111 to 107, LADY IN BLACK drops from 112 to 110, HEAD HONCHO goes from 122 to 119, MADE TO CONQUER drops from 108 to 106, and LEGAL EAGLE is down from 115 to 113.

  • Garden Province Stakes (Grade 1)

CELTIC SEA’s rating was upped from 114 to 115 after she captured the Grade 1 Garden Province Stakes (WFA) for fillies and mares over 1600m at Greyville on Saturday.  Here, it was the winner’s fellow three-year-old TEMPLE GRAFIN (who finished) fourth who was used as the line horse, in the belief that she was very unlikely to have run worse than the 107 she achieved when beaten by a bigger margin against her own age in the Grade 2 KRA Fillies Guineas over the same course-and-distance in May.  Accordingly, her rating remains unchanged.

Runner-up OH SUSANNA was trimmed from 116 to 115 to make her the equal of CELTIC SEA, while third placed SNOWDANCE goes up from 110 to 112 after what was an excellent effort from the deepest draw in a field of 14.

Fifth placed VISTULA showed herself to not be out of place in her first try at Grade 1 level, and her rating has been raised from 98 to 105.  In other changes, ROSE IN BLOOM drops from 102 to 100, ELUSIVE HEART goes from 98 to 95, and AL DANZA drops from 99 to 96.

  • DSTV Gold Vase (Grade 3) 

WALTER SMOOTHIE’s rating has been increased from 95 to 98 after he stayed on well to win the Grade 2 DSTV Gold Vase over 3000m at Greyville.  Third placed STRATHDON maintained his run of consistent form in staying events and was used as the line horse, which means that his rating remains unchanged on 101.  Runner-up DYNASTY’S BLOSSOM also remains on the 93, the rating off which she raced here.

In other changes, WONDEROUS CLIMBER drops from 84 to 83, PACIFIC CHESTNUT was cut from 91 to 90, BALLAD OF THE SEA goes from 79 to 76, and WARFARER was dropped from 85 to 84.

  • Betting World 2200 (Handicap) (Grade 3)

SHENANIGANS has had his rating increased from 94 to 97 after he came from near the tail of the field to win the Betting World 2200 on handicap terms over 2200m at Greyville on Saturday.  Third placed THE DAZZLER and fourth placed ZILLZAAL were used as the co-line horses, and therefore their ratings remain unchanged.  Runner-up GIMME ONE NIGHT goes up from 92 to 93.

Several drops were made to the ratings of unplaced horses.  BIZE was dropped from 97 to 96, BUNKER HUNT goes from 112 to 110, CHARLES was dropped from 104 to 101, and TOP CLASSMAN has been cut from 84 to 83.

  • Engen Performance Stakes  (Handicap) (Listed)

INFAMOUS FOX has had his rating increased from 110  to 112 after he won the Listed Engen Performance Stakes over 1600m under top weight of 62 kgs at Greyville on Saturday.  The Australian-bred gelding had won the equivalent race under 10 kgs less in 2018.

The third placed dead-heaters SOCIAL ORDER and CROWN TOWERS were used as the line horses here, so their ratings remains unchanged, while runner-up SILVER MAPLE (who looked desperately unlucky not to win after repeatedly encountering traffic problems) was raised from 92 to 93.

THANKSGIVING drops from 104 to 102, SNIPER SHOT was dropped from 103 to 102, LUNA CHILD was trimmed from 88 to 86, Q THE MUSIC was dropped from 94 to 92, MARCHINGONTOGETHER was dropped from 102 to 101, and MR ROY was dropped from 97 to 96.

The National Horseracing Authority is aware of various media reports regarding veterinary incidents that occurred at the Vodacom Durban July race meeting on Saturday, 6 July 2019.

To set the record straight CAVIVAR received veterinary treatment immediately following Race 5, the Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper (Grade 2), in which she finished in fourth position, she did not collapse during the race, but suffered from severe post-race distress. The Trainer of this horse gave credit to the veterinary treatment that was provided immediately following the race.

HAWWAAM was withdrawn immediately prior to the start of the Vodacom Durban July due to an unfortunate incident which does occur from time to time when one is dealing with highly strung thoroughbred animals.  A comment allegedly emanating from an anonymous trainer concerning the standard of the Handling Staff in Durban has absolutely NO merit and is totally baseless. 

The NHA Veterinary Surgeon, Dr Roehann Sutherland made the extremely difficult decision to withdraw HAWWAAM after completing an inspection of the colt following the incident. The emotions and the body language displayed by this esteemed professional, speak volumes for his empathy for the horse and his thorough UNDERSTANDING of the effect his decision would have on all the stakeholders and interested parties. As much as the NHA  sympathises with the Operators and the connections of HAWWAAM, we are also proud to have such a person in our employ.

Horse welfare is top priority and this weekend’s incidents clearly highlight the FACT that the HORSE comes first.

The National Horseracing Authority confirms that its Officials conducted specimen collection of the Vodacom Durban July runners on Friday, 5 July 2019.

The specimens will go through the usual pre-race screening procedures adopted by the NHA Laboratory. Horse welfare and the integrity of all races under its Rules are of critical importance to The National Horseracing Authority.