The Oppenheimer family is providing the South African race horse industry a lifeline to help it stay afloat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mary Oppenheimer Daughters Pty Ltd. are donating R100-million to Phumelela Gaming and Leisure Limited, the nation’s largest racehorsing company, after they filed for a local form of bankruptcy protection on May 8.

“This is not an attempt to save Phumelela as a company or an attempt to invest in Phumelela. It is critical in ensuring the sustainability of the industry as a whole,” said Wehann Smith, Director of Racing Association.

The funds are expected to aid the company for the next six months as they work through business rescue.

Phumelela’s business failure would cause a devastating effect on the South African race horse industry. The closure of the industry amid the pandemic has already affected about 60 000 workers.

Champion race horse trainer Jonathan Snaith argues that the closure of the races, if continued longer, may result in the industry needing to permanently close which could result in thousands of horses facing euthanasia.

On April 22, The National Horseracing Authority submitted a proposal to the President of the Republic of South Africa, the National Coronavirus Command Council, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to allow horse racing to continue “behind closed doors”.

Also read: Face horses may face euthanasia amid race closures
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