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The local horse racing industry was shocked on Monday by the news that as of Tuesday, 1 December 2020, no permits will be issued allowing horses to travel to Cape Town from either Johannesburg, Durban or Port Elizabeth.

These permits are issued by the South African Equine Health and Protocols NPC (SAEHP). In fact, the operation, management, and maintenance of the disease control system for horses as well as the accompanying risk mitigation measures are conducted by the SAEHP on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD).

According to Adrian Todd, Managing Director of SAEHP, the organisation has been forced to suspend the provision of these services from 1 December “due to circumstances beyond our control”.

These “circumstances”, however, are nothing more than a political spat between South Africa and the European Union regarding ongoing trade negotiations in which the South African horseracing industry has become a bargaining chip.

For an industry already severely under siege due to the coronavirus pandemic, the timing could not have been worse as the Cape Summer Season was just launched with the official revealing of the programme for the 160th Queen’s Plate – sponsored for the fifth year by L’Ormarins – on Friday, 8 and Saturday, 9 January 2021.

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