Durban – A man has been arrested after an attack on racehorses at Fairview Racecourse training centre in Port Elizabeth last week led to the death of one horse and serious injuries to 28 more.
More than 150 rioting workers tortured and stabbed the horses in an incident sparked by grooms formerly employed by PE trainer Yvette Bremner.
Port Elizabeth police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed yesterday that a 49-year-old man had been detained on charges of malicious damage to property and public violence.
Naidu said the man, who was among more than 150 protesters, would make his first court appearance today.
The incident resulted in the torture of horses, which sustained numerous injuries – some of which include knife wounds and slit throats.
Leading horse owner Hedley McGrath, Bremner’s life and business partner, announced on Saturday that they were both leaving the horse racing industry.
McGrath’s publicist, Kelly Burke, confirmed his exit yesterday, stating: “After what he has seen these past few days, he can’t be part of it.”
In an interview with online racing programme Clocking The Gallop, McGrath said Bremner did not deserve what happened. “She’s finished with this, Yvette’s gone, she doesn’t need this in her life,” he said.
McGrath added that Bremner’s loyal assistant, who was taking up a position at Summerveld Racecourse, would be getting all their horses.
“Everything that Cole needs to make that stable like our stable was in PE, he’s been given,” he said.
McGrath explained that the issue started in February, when they discovered that a groom had stabbed a horse called Calgary in the neck during grooming.
“We did follow the correct procedure in calling this guy in and telling him that we’re going to have to investigate, and during this whole process the rest of our grooms, the 40 of them and the ladies concerned, all decided to get up and leave,” he said.
In a statement after last week’s incident, McGrath said the attack was one of the most barbaric, savage attacks he had ever seen. “I would like the owners of all of the racehorses stabled at Fairview, with the various trainers, to know that it was not just Yvette Bremner’s grooms who took part in the riots, it was also grooms from other yards who were part of the attacking and rioting,” he said.
McGrath said those owners needed to ask themselves how safe their horses were.
“The same grooms who are employed to look after their horses were part of this riot,” he said.
Burke said most of the horses had been brought to Durban, except a few which were badly injured and waiting to travel.
Bremner did not respond to a request for comment.
McGrath’s son, Travis, posted the Clocking The Gallop interview on Facebook and said anyone would vouch for the fact that his father and Bremner, his stepmother, treated their employees fairly.
“They simply went out their way to make the stables a happy place. The sudden turn of events was all linked to one incident back in February, and that changed everything. This has been far more then just the latest event. It didn’t have to end this way,” he said.