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BR Reporter - 15 March 2023

Horse racing operator 4Racing on Tuesday said as part of a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) initiative it would transfer a 26% stake in the company to a Grooms and Employees’ Trust.

In December 2022, the Competition Commission approved the implementation of the 4Racing Transformation Initiative, which would see a 26% shareholding of the company apportioned between a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Trust (BBOS), the beneficiaries of which would be grooms and stable hands, and an Employee Share Ownership Programme (Esop) being established for 4Racing employees, it said.

When the Competition Commission approved the transaction between Phumelela and 4Racing on March 31, 2021, 4Racing made a commitment to contribute to the transformation of not only the organisation, but the horse racing industry as a whole.

4Racing also said on Tuesday that it had appointed an independent Trust Administrator to handle the establishment and administration of the Grooms and Employees’ Trust.

A total of 16% of the company’s shares will be issued to to BBOS and 10% to 4Racing Employees (Esop).

4Racing CEO Fundi Sithebe said: “Grooms are one of the most crucial parts of the horse-racing industry. They are also traditionally the most marginalised stakeholders. This landmark approval by the 4Racing Board of the funding for the Grooms Trust initiative is a massive moment in the history of South African horse racing.

“The Grooms Trust will genuinely empower grooms and stable hands, and we are extremely proud of the progressive steps being made to improve the holistic living standards of these very important stakeholders, as well as by the formation of the Employees’ Trust,” she said.

Futhermore, 4Racing said an experienced medical services and insurance provider had been selected to provide cost-effective and accessible funeral cover and medical insurance that meets the needs of grooms, and had already started conducting a benefits registration campaign for grooms and stable hands, starting at Fairview Racecourse.

This would be followed by similar registration drives this month at the Vaal, Randjesfontein and Turffontein racecourses.

The grooms and stable hands’ benefits had been driven by a collaboration between 4Racing, trainers and owners, and the Racehorse Owners’ Association (ROA), which has committed considerable funding in support of the grooms’ initiatives.

ROA CEO Natalie Turner said partnering with 4Racing on the grooms’ welfare initiatives was absolutely critical.

“We are mindful that we need to strike a balance between stakes maximisation for owners, and playing a meaningful role in bringing about change and transformation in the industry. In this particular case, improving the welfare of grooms and stable hands is a key and critical element. This partnership is a powerful message of change and collaboration within the horse-racing industry. We look forward to participating in this initiative, jointly supporting grooms and transforming lives,” said Turner. The 4Racing Board also said it had commissioned a property solution company to conduct a thorough assessment and investigation into the state of the grooms’ accommodation at all 4Racing’s racing and training facilities. “The findings were that the Turffontein Grooms’ lodging was in need of renovation, and that the accommodation at Randjesfontein and the Vaal were well-maintained and that no immediate action was required there,” it said.

However, 4Racing would renovate the existing grooms’ accommodation at Turffontein, where work on the eight-month project has already begun, with a number of grooms currently having moved to temporary accommodation while their living quarters are being renovated.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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