Successful international trainer Mike de Kock is planning to reduce his stable by approximately 40% following a groom strike at Randjesfontein in Johannesburg, South Africa. During the strike, armed grooms threatened trainers and assistant trainers after wage negotiations broke down. The June 21 race meeting at the Vaal, which also houses a training centre, was abandoned.
“I will be reducing my string by 40%,” said de Kock on his blog on Sunday. “At this stage of my life, I’ve been wanting to train the most beautiful animals and really enjoy it along with my son, but the situation racing is in has left me wondering why I do it and questioning my own loyalty to SA racing. To have been confronted by 300 weapon-wielding, threatening grooms left a bitter taste in my mouth. When members of my family, staff and horses are threatened with death and harm it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. From now on, we’ll be living in fear and uncertainty every day. The experience of the last few days and the effects it had on my own and my family’s lives, coupled with surprise, disappointment and disbelief, has brought me to a stage where I have to say that Mike de Kock racing is now seriously considering our position in South African racing.”