Zimbabwe Horse Farms Under Attack

At a time when the mare Ipi Tombe becomes the first Zimbabwe-bred imported to North America, the horses remaining in her native land face injury and slaughter due to a government land grab.

According to reports from racing officials in South Africa, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has instituted a program whereby all white farmers must leave their land immediately, with the farms ostensibly being given over to the poor. According to Robin Bruss of the South African Jockey Club, however, those lands are being allocated to Mugabe's family and high-ranking militia members. Bruss said that Mugabe has arrested at least 50 farmers and intends to do the same to the remaining 1,900 white farmers who refuse to leave the country.

Peter Moor, the breeder of Ipi Tombe and the chairman of the Zimbabwe Thoroughbred Breeders Association, has moved off his farm and relocated to South Africa for the time being. He told Bruss that militia members last week demanded his stud manager leave the property, and then subsequently beat horses, with three mares aborting. Ipi Tombe's dam is located on the farm.

The majority share of Ipi Tombe has been purchased by North American interests, with WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., taking a 50% stake, Team Valor 25%, and the remaining 25% staying in South African hands. Ipi Tombe, who currently is in South Africa, has won four graded stakes races there from five starts. She is being pointed for next year's Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I), after which she will come to America and the shedrow of Elliott Walden.

"In regard to the horse racing and breeding industry, we are seeing the decimation of a proud and successful industry," said Bruss. "What will happen to the breeders? Their horses?"

Moor, a prominent lawyer, said many of his farms have been seized by the Mugabe government. Next year's foal crop in the country will be roughly 50% of what it was just three years ago. Another farmer, Terry Ford, was murdered, and his band of mares had to be humanely destroyed by the SPCA after the horses had been starved and abused, according to a report in the Sporting Post.