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Jockeys Are Actually Good For The Game!

NHA barking up wrong tree again

Jockeys’ presence in gambling establishments appears to have become something of a soft target for our racing regulator in recent weeks. Is it not almost bizarre to expect a rider not to do some marketing after his shower and a long day at the office, by mingling with owners and trainers in private suites at the racetrack, for example?

No jockey in sight!

Prioritising the key issues that impact on the public image and general confidence in the Sport Of Kings does not feature high on the agenda of our racing regulator. Vague rules that cannot be policed properly and are applied on a hit-and-miss basis also compound the bungling, and hardly aid the cause of projecting horseracing as a clean, well-managed sport that is actually worth getting involved in.

Jockeys and registered betting premises is the latest lame hobby-horse to be saddled up by the National Horseracing Authority.

Love them or hate them, let’s accept that jockeys are the human hero face of the sport. The average punter in the local tote would rather talk to the pilot, than the man who plots the trips and changes the jet’s oil back at the hangar.

By their nature, jockeys – some more than others – have an allure and mystique for the man in the street. Some imagine that jockeys control the game – their lives to be fast and glamorous. Cash and public adoration comes easy. What a life – but what a lie!

The reality is that at the end of the urban mythical rainbow, most are family men, who eke out a living – with the same frustrations and problems as the rest of us mortals. They hardly control the game – in fact it’s the other way round.

2008 Gr1 Vodacom Durban July (photo: Gold Circle)

Jockeys are self-employed professionals who sell their skills on and off the track. Some are fortunate to be sponsored. Ultimately, they have a very vested interest in racing prospering.

Let’s rewind now to July 2016

Against a background of spirited resistance from some industry insiders, the NHA introduced rule 21.3. It says: Without the written permission of the Stipendiary Board, no jockey shall enter or visit any registered betting premises where members of the public are able to place any bets or wagers of any kind whatsoever.

The rule hardly takes cognisance of the fact that the nature of modern betting premises has changed dramatically this century. They are racecourses, casino’s, totes, private betting outlets, where one can play a one-armed bandit, buy a lotto ticket, spin a  roulette wheel and even have a soccer or curling bet.

You will never see a jockey at Emperors Palace – without a pass from the Stipes, that is!

Technically, jockeys thus have to get permission to attend a sale at Emperors Palace. To attend a Met draw at Grand West. To be wary that their local café doesn’t have a LPM (those fruit machines with the spinning wheels) in a dark corner. Applied literally, they may need Stipe’s Permission to pick up the milk and bread on the way home!

Then the last straw…

Avontuur-sponsored MJ Byleveld received an invite from Clyde Basel, the Phumelela Racing Executive, inviting him to attend a Betting World Met Day panel discussion in January.

No good deed goes unpunished! MJ Byleveld

The ever enthusiastic MJ willingly agreed – he loves the game and wants to add value where he can.

In their infinite wisdom, the NHA subsequently charged MJ with a contravention of Rule 21.3 – effectively for giving up his free time at no remuneration to promote the Sun Met and betting turnover.

The word is that local Stipendiary Board Chairman Ernie Rodrigues did his damndest to let sanity prevail. After all, the racing operator had invited the jockey, who had fairly assumed that he was within rules. Racing doesn’t need more poor publicity – even from an innocent MJ this time…

To compound matters, the NHA then humiliated  and tarnished the jockey’s good name with their typically cryptic notice – not much better than their disingenuous press releases – in their racing calendar, confirming simply that he was frequenting a betting premise without permission. And by deduction- naturally up to all kinds of tricks.

As a result of the NHA’s narrow-minded approach, we have learnt that the powerful Coastal Jockey’s Association, on behalf of their members, have instructed their lawyers to inform the NHA that no jockey will be party to any panel discussions on any racecourse or betting premise. That is until such time as Racing Executive Arnold Hyde issues an apology for embarrassing Byleveld and also gives an undertaking in regard to jockeys attending similar events in future.

Two other jockeys fell foul of the same rule in the Met build-up

In winning form! Muzi Yeni

Winning Form-sponsored Muzi Yeni and Robert Khathi attended a Hollywood promotion and panel discussion and were sanctioned. Yeni told the Sporting Post that being sponsored was a win-win for the jockey and the sponsor, and racing ultimately benefitted. What he and his colleague were doing were getting punters interested and involved, and motivated to bet – to hype interest in the Met.

“We don’t hang around Totes. That naturally creates a poor image. We attend functions by invitation. It’s good for the game. When a jockey causes interference or doesn’t give his horse every chance, then nail him. That kind of thing is bad for racing.”

Muzi added that he felt that the NHA could be more constructive in their approach to punitive measures.

“In the case of interference, for example, give us an option of a fine linked to income, a suspension or a hearing. We can then make a business decision and choose to pay away say 25% of monthly income in lieu of a week off. This would be more constructive and could raise money for the coffers of the Horse Care Units.”

That’s a debate for another day!

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25 comments on “Jockeys Are Actually Good For The Game!

  1. Don says:

    Astounded. Shoot self in foot syndrome…all. the. time. racing. industry. you. really. need. your. heads. read!

  2. Brian says:

    Does this surprise us?
    Absolutely no!! When the sport is in the hands of people who know nothing about the sport what can we expect. I am filled with anger at these people. They have set about destroying everything that has taken at least a century to build by implementing the most pathetic decisions abut celebratory gestures and now Clyde Basel drops the jockeys in it. According to their rules had they been enforced at the time, I would not have had the privilege of meeting Lester Piggott in the Frank & Jane after the Bull Brand International (which is how I found out exactly what he said to the starter).
    This sport was moving forward and now in a steady decline.

    Formula 1 is doing it’s damnedest to get the public closer, in fact, all major sports except our powers that be.

    Words actually fail me in my anger.

  3. Pippa Mickleburgh says:

    What a poor show..MJ is always so helpful and does his best to uplift the sport;and what does he get a fine,I would suggest all jockeys are just never ever availble again to help promote any race days..keep up the good work MJ we support you 100%…come on NHRA stop dragging your feet..you are not helping us to uplift this sport and encourage any new owners.

  4. Ashleigh says:

    I literally cannot believe what I am reading!!!! And people ask why I have walked away from the racing industry? Innocent circumstances like this end up tarnishing the good names of good people for no reason – people who dedicate their lives to racing in most cases. But the real cheats and crooks get to fly untouched under the radar. MJ Byleveldt is one of the MOST upstanding and dedicated people in the industry – I am so sorry for what has happened to you MJ.

  5. Pat says:

    NHA’s petty rules boggle the mind. So, if a jockey wants to take his family to Emperors for dinner or to watch any form of entertainment, he is required to get permission !! Absolutely absurd ….

  6. Leoned says:

    WELL SAID. Funny thing is,if a jockey wanted to get up to mischief or wrong doings. Like anyone else in life. They can any time any where!!!! do the powers that be honestly think the jocks will be up to shenanigans mingling with owners or being on a panel .. WHAT NONSENSE ..always tarnish the jock it’s so easy. !! Yet they the ones steering your horse home and putting their lives at risk. ..as for suspensions .. Many jocks are average earners. Hard working to support their family. Taking away 1/2 months salary ..is very hard. ESPECIALLY the average earners. And if you not sponsored ..Fines payed of etc will be much easier and at least they can feed their families !! NOT saying they should get away with wrong doings but be fair .. try take away 1/2 a months salary of a member of gold circle for instance .. or any average employee ? …SO many things have never changed in 10 years it’s actually scary This is my opinion . Having been in the game 25 years.

  7. Ian Jayes says:

    For many years jockeys or their spouses were not allowed to own horses. A lot of them did but had to do it under-the-lap. Nothing untoward has happened since they were allowed to own horses. It is always better to do things in the open.

  8. James George says:

    So jockeys cannot go into Pick n Pay. Checkers. Spar. Shoprite, without permission from the NHRA, as they all have Lotto machines?

  9. James George says:

    What happens in the case of race horse owner/jockey Aldo Domeyer? Can he bet on races and enter betting premises whilst wearing his owner’s hat?

    1. Editor says:

      He allowed to own horses
      But licenced jockey rules surely supercede owner governance

  10. Pieta says:

    This is obviously an early April fools joke?….right?
    If not then we have an bigger problem with the NRA .
    What the hell is going on there?……people elevated out of their standing?

  11. Tex says:

    I believe the one particular rule maker has this bug in his head about ”perception” and I can’t see

    that bug going anywhere soon !

    ”an apology, that will be a first”

    Respect The Stunt Men Of The Turf

  12. Jay Munnsammy says:

    On this occassion the NHRA is 100% correct. Because MJ is a good guy or he was invited by Clyde Basil makes no difference. He should know the rules and adhere to them.

    The rule has been around for a while and jockeys have not done anything to have it changed. We all know that jockeys cannot enter a bookmakers premises. No matter what criticizm there is of the rule MJ knew about it. He knew about the Wayne Agrella incident.

    I find it a poor show that most complain after the fact. MJ should have known better. The NHRA should be applauded for doing its job. Well done to the NHRA.

    If blame is to be apportioned, Clyde Basil and Phumelela deserve to be castigated. They should have known. They should have got permission for the jockey. Its a poor poor show on the part of the operator. The best outcome is that should MJ be fined, Phumelela should pay for his lawyer and any fine imposed.

    I am super happy that the NHRA via Mr Hyde is doing its job. Phumelela should be charged and if tbe rules do not allow for it, they should be changed.

    1. Viking King says:

      I was in two minds on this subject however I have to agree with Jay Munnsammy – Rules are Rules . MJ is a great guy , but rules need to be adhered to . I remember in the 80 and 90’s hanging on the rails of Turfontein trying to get a signal or any other sign that they had a chance. The rails were packed and it created such excitement and whispers . A jockey was not allowed to even look at the public or even scratch his nose . It is unfair on the owners who might want to get a price in order to pay keep , but before he got to the Bookmaker stand the price was gone. I realize times have changed , however I preferred the secrecy route . Jockeys dont own the horses the owners do , therefore they should not be allowed to become popular on the back of other people , their job is to go ride listen to instructions and try their best. That is what makes great Jockeys .

      1. Brian says:

        I hear what you’re saying here Viking king and yes, those were great days. But, they’ve gone and with them a whole lot of betting public. Those days it was just horse racing but now the betting rand is divided and has to be earned. To do that Basel’s intentions were good but the rules are archaic and not very well thought out. But then we don’t exactly have the brightest in the NHA these days. I’m sorry, but whoever it mat be is NOT doing there job and is being pea brained about the whole thing. A jockey’s wife can bet, he can get a secret runner, he can bet on the internet but HE CAN BET if he wants to. What we really needs if for them to be the ambassadors of the sport and lift it’s popularity amongst the sporting public. The NHA are not doing that and seem to be working against those are are by sitting there at there thinking up as many pathetic rules as they can without giving sense to legal rights or in fact the law itself.
        Most of the decisions handed down would not even reach the door steps of a court but, reasonable people understand and accept that the NHA is vital to the sport and take a reasonable persons approach and acceptance.

        Time however is the great healer. I wonder how much longer they are going to accept and “understand”.

      2. Blue Peter says:

        No problem with the rule. The response is the question. How about “Decline to prosecute”. Matter settled.

      3. Roderick Mattheyse says:

        you are giving owners a bad name. its nice to get on first, but not the reason to own horses. if someone had kept a ledger of their getting on first antics it would show a massive minus.

        the market is too small for any secrecy to be effective. The fact that transparency is trying to be addressed is commendable, however the implementation and results thereof is juvenile and kindergarten playground stuff.

  13. Mike Greeff says:

    Things may have changed, but when I was at a racing conference in Japan many years ago, racing was not advertised anywhere. However, everywhere one went, like railway stations and public places, there were posters of jockeys and famous horses. Jockeys are treated like film stars and that is how horse racing is promoted!

  14. Ashleigh says:

    We’ll just conveniently forget that any person, including jockeys have access to the internet where there are a whole multitude of betting websites. This rule needs to be updated urgently to be relevant to the purpose it was put in place for. If it’s a perception thing, how can another jockey be an “ambassador” for an organisation which is a tipping service then? The mind still boggles at the pedantic application of this particular rule in some cases, and the total non-application of it in others. Like rolling a dice really…

  15. Albert X. Beare says:

    I have enjoyed reading all the writing about the rule being archaic and wrong.

    Where were all the voices of these wonderful people when the rule was made and why are they only complaining now?

    The rule has been around for years. Its one of the first rules tbat Jockeys learn at the academy. It is drummed into their heads.

    It is not the breeder, owner or punter that should be complaining about the rule. It is the jockeys. They have accepted it warts and all.

    1. James George says:

      Albert X Rule 21.3 which states -‘ Without the WRITTEN permission of the SB, no JOCKEY shall enter or visit any registered
      betting premises where members of the public are able to place any bets or wagers of any
      kind whatsoever ‘
      Has not been around for years as it only became a rule in July 2016.and ‘wonderful people’ did raise their voices then
      Check Sportingpost “We Don’t Trust Our Jockeys” July 2016– 31 comments(Voices) Albert.

    2. Brian says:

      Speaking specifically about the incident with Clyde Basel which is where the story stems from, yes maybe the rule did exist but the racing punter would not know the specifics of the rule. It was also written in times when there were no other gambling options, hopefully, because if it wasn’t, it makes it an even more stupid rule. If it was it needs to be modernized.

      The general public are oblivious to most rules and would consider the event not worthy of a rule because the racing public want to hear from the jockey. No different to an interview with any other sporting personality from rugby, cricket whatever. ts part and parcel of sport, except of course this one.

      There’s in thing in law known as abrogation by misuse. This one applies

  16. Albert X. Beare says:

    James you are spot on.
    Most of the wonderful people who are now complaining never complained then.
    The rule has been around long enough for the jockeys and any of their sponsors to try and get it changed. What have these wonderful people done? The moral of the story is that all wonderful people should not complain about the horse bolting when the stable door has been left open for close to 2 years and the horse was last seen clise to 2 years ago.

    1. Eric Fordred says:

      Albert you are being as pedantic , as the NHA is being pathetic… who would have ever have believed that NHA would use that ridiculous and hopefully soon to be archaic rule in such an unjust manner? I salute the Coastel Jockeys association for taking such a positive position on this utterly infantile rule, MJ is a very positive person and a great asset to the racing industry, I for one am privileged to know him very well he is man of strong moral values and a no nonsense gentlemen. …it is time that we stand up and support Jockey’s countrywide who after all as said previously “are the face of racing”

  17. Steve Reid says:

    The law is an ass.

    Even bigger asses are the fools at the NHA that display a lack of common sense when applying these rules.

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