Ensuring all is fair in the Durban July

2014-07-05 00:00

“FOR us, the ideal Vodacom Durban July will be if nobody knows we were there.”

So says Shaun Parker, chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Stipendiary Stewards, an organisation that falls under the National Horse Racing Authority.

They may seem strange words for South Africa’s premier horse race that will be attended by more than 63 000 spectators today, but the job of the “Stipes” is to ensure that the races are run fairly and safely, for jockeys and for the horses. Not hearing from the Stipes means that the race went smoothly and without incident.

Because it is such a big event, Ernie Rodriques, chairperson of the Stipes in Cape Town, is here to assist Parker and his team of six. They have been doing this job for more than two decades.

Today at Greyville, they will monitor every second of every race with six to eight cameras placed along the track, and from a “boardroom” crammed with television screens under the main stand.

They will see that there is no interference among the horses and jockeys, that all the horses get out of the starting gates properly and that there are no contraventions of horse racing rules.

The Stipes have the power to issue fines or suspensions.

Usually, said Parker, by the time the horses have finished and are ready to be unsaddled, the Stipes will have viewed each possible area of concern to them at least three or four times with the cameras.

The Stipes are also in constant ­radio contact with other officials involved in the race, such as the starting team, the veterenarians and the judges. They will also ask for “specimens” of some of the horses after the race, usually of the winner and some of the other horses, to test for illegal substances.

Greyville’s configuration is slightly different this year — the track is slightly narrower — so Parker and ­Rodrigues inspected the race track yesterday afternoon.

But, said Parker, the job of the Stipes extends much further than seeing that the horse racing regulations are adhered to on race day.

The race horse owners, jockeys and horses are all registered through ­licences with the Stipes.

Each horse, for example, is issued a “passport” by the Stipes, in which the number of each horse’s electronic chip, its vacination history, markings and other details are kept.

The Stipes also visit the stable yards and training sessions of race horses during the week.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.