Horse racing experts in South Africa have warned hundreds of thoroughbreds could be put down by desperate owners as the country’s coronavirus lockdown has put an end to the sport.
South Africa’s National Horseracing Authority (NHA) has warned the industry is on the verge of collapse, with 60,000 jobs on the line as races have been stopped in the county’s coronavirus lockdown.
NHA Executive Director Vee Moodley said in a statement that “we are in a dire situation as an industry because all the lost revenue directly affects at least six people per horse who look after them before, during and after each race”.
He pleaded for the government to do what they could to save jobs and horses, as a lack of revenue would see animals put down as breeders cannot afford to keep them alive.
He added: “ We are asking for closed racing which will involve about 65 people per racecourse and about 15 minutes of racing per day. That is all it will take to avoid the collapse of this industry at this stage.”
John Freeman, the CEO of Cape Town-based Freeman Stallions said that a horse cost an average of 10,000 SAR (441 GBP) maintain per month, adding that he knew people had called him saying they had been forced to put their horses down in the lockdown.
He said: “It’s made me cry. I’m sure all the industries are struggling, but they are not forced to take lives. It’s the taking of lives that we are really concerned about.”
Hazel Kayiya, the NHA’s racing administrator executive, warned that the loss of racing income had seen a 20-percent rise in the number of horses being put down, warning that 300-400 could be euthanised per month.
The NHA added that the increase could reach 50 percent if racing is not brought back.
According to the latest figures from the John Hopkins University, South Africa has suffered 10,015 cases of COVID-19 with 194 deaths.
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