Many industry participants are up in arms over a new policy brought in by Addington Raceway that forbids children aged 6-14 from entering the Addington stabling area unless they have passed a Stable Area Awareness Course (SAAC).
“They can’t get any young people to the races now,” said trainer-driver Jamie Keast. “And now we are not even going to be able to take our kids? Why would they want to take their friends later on in life to somewhere, where, they were never welcome?” He questioned.
“From the earliest age I can remember I was taken to the races and my parents used to take me down to visit my uncle the late great D G Jones. Had this not happened I probably would have never got involved. My son was also taken to the races when he was only a few days old, and now he is working for the McCarthys in Australia,” said Keast.
Prominent trainer Nina Hope was also quick to jump on the bandwagon.
“All they are doing is chasing future owners and trainers away from the game. The club wanted for my son Ben (14) to sit in the bar all night last Friday, rather than help his dad in the stables like he has done for years!”
Sara Smith, wife of Gavin and daughter of prominent owner Robert Famularo, was outraged when she was told she could not enter the stables whilst carrying her young daughter.
“I love going to the races and watching/supporting Gavin's and dads horses, but it makes it hard to want to go if, when I have my daughter, I can't even go see them before/afterwards.”
“We should have got into gallopers if that's what we wanted - no touching. The fun part as kids was going to see the horses at the stables with dad, and now my daughter can’t do that until she has turned six and passed a Stable Area Awareness Course.
Burnham trainer Margo Nyhan was another who took to social media to speak out against the new policy.
“Perhaps they should be running courses for owners, as the children of trainers and drivers would know more about the dangers of horses than many adult owners who only ever see their horses’ race night and stand round talking in the middle of the barn.”
Lisa Orange and Chanelle Court, wives of Blair and Paul, were others who were extremely disappointed that their kids (younger than 6) would no longer be able to come to Addington and cheer on their dads.
Dual New Zealand Cup winning driver Peter Jones, who incidentally was told he could not enter the stables last week as he didn’t have his trainers’ licence on him, said that when he was that age he used to drive the horses out to the birdcage to meet the drivers.
“There used to be a race between us kids to get the white jackets,” he laughed. “Now everything is just getting to PC. No wonder the next generation doesn’t want to get involved.”
The SAAC was designed by HRNZ to increase understanding of horse behaviour, hazard identification, danger awareness and emergency procedures. Children aged 6 to 14 years may complete the course and on completion will be issued a SAAC Pass which will allow them access to the stables when accompanied by an adult. HRNZ is “apparently” providing this service to assist Addington Raceway and licence-holders with children.
However, not all the feedback was negative with some offering positive feedback on the change. One of which, was Shane Hayes, whose daughter was seriously injured in an accident at Alexandra Park when she was a child.
Others wondered why everyone was making such a big deal about a one hour safety course, that more than 40 kids have already sat.
Okay, so 6-14 year-old can get into the stables after sitting a one hour course, but what about the under fives? Don’t they say the earlier you start the more chance you have of becoming attached? Imagine if Tiger Woods wasn’t allowed on the golf course when he was five because of the danger of getting hit in the head with a golf ball? Would he still have 14 Majors next to his name?
For those interested, the next Stable Area Awareness Course is being run at Addington Raceway on Friday October 18 at 5pm. There will also be one held on the 1st of November at 5pm.
To view a full outline of the Stable Area Awareness Course click here.
By Mitchell Robertson