Turf Talk: The EU audit into export protocols put on hold.
Obviously, while exports are of vital importance to the South African industry, global health concerns have taken precedence. The pre-audit scheduled for last week by the Asian Racing Federation and the Hong Kong Jockey club has been postponed due to Governmental travel restrictions.
The official European Union (EU) audit scheduled for 20 April is currently being re-assessed, which was decided even prior to the national lockdown.
“The current outbreak of COVID-19 is an international emergency and peoples’ lives come first. We will be hearing from the operators regarding the impact this will have on the mechanics of racing,” said Adrian Todd, MD of South African Equine Health & Protocols (SAEHP).
“Regarding exports, we have been assured that the audit will take place as soon as it is safely possible. SAEHP is working in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the EU auditors to explore the development of procedures that will allow as many of the presentations and record-keeping assessments to be conducted remotely via video conference prior to the physical visit.”
Todd said that all efforts are being made to ensure the audit goes ahead in a timely manner and that SAEHP would continue in pre-audit mode, in full preparation for the audit. “We have been assured the EU audit will take place as soon as it is safe to resume international travel, as our country works to restore the economy after COVID-19 the ability to trade horses internationally will become even more important to the survival of our industry.
“Given the domestic movement restrictions SAEHP will continue with remote assessment of systems and ensure we remain compliant with international equine disease risk mitigation measures. When it is safe to travel, we will get very little notice of the physical audit starting. It is imperative, therefore, we maintain a state of preparation and we do not drop standards,” he commented.
Racing has been hovering on the edge for a while and the impending national lockdown along with a delay in the EU audit will cause further hardship to the South African industry. With the 21-day national lockdown looming, the postponing of the National Yearling Sale and other sales, this is a very difficult time for racing and breeding.
Unsurprisingly, turnover is down and more so than ever before, racing is in very troubled waters and is fighting for survival, said Todd.
The most important thing right now is to make sure racing’s participants are safe. Exactly what lockdown means regarding the ongoing care of horses will no doubt be clarified in the next days. This will be devastating for the industry, but we will survive, he said. – Turf Talk