An Australian-born former lawyer, Andrew Harding has another dimension to his CV which will appeal to South Africans, and that is his acquaintance with the local industry following his visit here a couple of winters back as the memorable keynote speaker at Summerhill’s annual Winter Workshop. His impressions of the work at the School Of Management Excellence led to the Hong Kong Jockey Club awarding a scholarship to administratively-orientated students, the first beneficiaries of which were Gold Circle’s Hazel Kayiya (recently appointed as International Racing Manager at HKJC) and Nana Mnyandu (Phumelela).
We’ve been on record in recent months, given the international level of sympathy for the cause and the strides our scientists and government have made on the technology front,) as saying that we’ve not been more bullish on the prospects of the re-calibration of our export protocols than we are right now. That the “green shoots’ of these endeavours are at last beginning to bear fruit in the form of international acknowledgment of this country’s plight, lies in an article which appeared in Hong Kong’s premier newspaper, the South China Morning Post, over the weekend. It speaks of the return of the revered veterinarian, Dr. Brian Stewart to Hong Kong as the Jockey Club pushes towards completing the Conghau Training Centre in Gaungzhou (on the Chinese mainland) and attempts to open up a new thoroughbred market in South Africa.
“Stewart worked at the Jockey Club from 2002, leaving his post as head of veterinary regulation and international liaison in 2011 for the chief post with Racing Victoria in Australia, but Sports Road has announced his return in early November, following the Melbourne Cup carnival. Stewart returns as head of veterinary regulation and biosecurity policy, a department within the club's Racing Authority responsible for anti-doping policies, horse welfare, quarantine policy and international movement of horses.
He is chairman of the International Group of Specialist Racing Veterinarians (IGSRV) and chairman of the International Movement of Horses Committee (IMHC) for the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA). An obvious focus for Stewart will be continuation of the work for the cross-border movement of horses to and from the Conghua Training Centre - scheduled to be operational by July 2018 - but his expertise in the international movement of horses could also prove invaluable for the opening of the South African market. South African horses are of a high standard and the market is cheaper than established buying zones for Hong Kong owners like Europe or Australasia, but quarantine regulations have severely restricted exports from South Africa for many years.
“Sourcing horses from South Africa would be a natural fit for Hong Kong but the quarantine issues have always been the stumbling block,” said the club's Racing Authority executive director, Andrew Harding. “Overcoming these will be no mean feat, but we have recently achieved a much better engagement with both the South African bodies and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The circumstances are right to make a concerted push to open up South Africa and Brian Stewart's curriculum vitae makes him uniquely qualified to assist with this,” Harding said. “His expertise, international standing and proven effectiveness as a senior regulator within the club model, will ensure he makes a substantial contribution to Hong Kong racing.”
Sunshine, it seems, at last.