Racing authorities across South Africa have outlined new plans to resume racing on 1 May, following the government’s decision to extend the country’s COVID-19 lockdown until the end of April.
The target date was confirmed after ‘numerous meetings’ between racing operators, the Racing Association and the National Horseracing Authority over the Easter weekend.
In a statement issued by the NHA Chief Executive, Vee Moodley, it said: “On the assumption that the extended national Lockdown is lifted AND that racing is permitted to resume with adequate betting revenues flowing to the Racing Operators, the plan is to recommence racing on Friday, 1 May.
“To this end, The National Horseracing Authority is in the process of making a coordinated representation to Government on behalf of the South African Horseracing Industry to enable such resumption after Lockdown is lifted, under whatever Government restrictions are implemented.”
Pending the decision for the lockdown to be lifted, the racing authorities have emphasised that it is likely racing will resume behind closed doors, and restrictions will be ‘tighter than before’.
The statement continued: “It is common cause that the Racing Operators’ businesses have been under significant pressure of late for several well-documented reasons. This has been further heightened by the national Lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 containment measures implemented by the Government.
“During this period virtually no revenue has been generated whilst the Racing Operators have had to continue funding their operations. This includes a significant effort by the Racing Operators, The National Horseracing Authority, the Racing Association and all stakeholders to keep the training centres operational under strict access control and sanitization protocols.
“Due to this drying up of revenue and the uncertainty around the timing of the resumption of racing, football and other sports around the world (on which the Racing Operators are heavily reliant for revenue), it is unfortunately unavoidable that racing will resume with a lower level of stakes until the businesses of the Racing Operators normalize.
“In the interim, the Racing Association has agreed to contribute R13.1 million towards stakes in Phumelela regions and the Western Cape from May through July, thereby helping to mitigate the resulting reduction in stakes in those regions.”