A potentially serious situation was diffused at Turffontein on Saturday when racing officials persuaded a group of about 50 protestors assembled on the racetrack to leave the course so that racing could continue following its interruption after Race 2 on Champions Day.

While racing resumed after a delay of about an hour – the result of a grooms’ protest against working conditions – one sad and unfortunate consequence was the decision by veteran trainer Ormond Ferraris to hand in his licence.

The 87-year old Ferraris, upset and severely stressed by the grooms’ actions, had to be taken to hospital for a check-up and observation when his staff decided to desert the yard around 4am on Saturday morning.

He was released on Saturday afternoon and told Turf Talk on Sunday: “I have made my decision, I am giving up training.”

Ferraris, who has served the horseracing industry with great distinction for 70 years, said that trainers at Turffontein were aware of the pending strike on Friday. “I arranged with my 20 grooms to come to work Saturday at 3am, an hour earlier, so they could attend their meeting which was scheduled for 5am.

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