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Stipe Provoked Jockey

In defence of Billy Jacobson

Our jockeys spend years absorbing every aspect of a horse’s behaviour at point blank range.From mucking out boxes to grooming and passing delinquent youngsters through the starting stalls.

Surely our Stipendiary Stewards should also be subjected to some of the same training?

The men in suits with pen in hand who police the men in silks with crop in hand – always from a safe distance.

While it’s something that could be wildly imagined at a stretch, it seems an anomaly that we expect individuals, many of whom hardly relate to the quirks and behavioural traits of the thoroughbred, to have any real understanding of the dangers and risks associated with the psyche of the horse.

Yes, horses are likely to kick if you stand behind them. That’s something we all learnt as youngsters.

But basics aside, if you can’t ride a horse and fit a saddle and bridle, what right do you really have to be a Stipendiary Steward and interpret aspects related to the thoroughbred? That includes overseeing objections and interpreting race rides.

The announcement by the National Horseracing Authority earlier this week that KZN jockey Billy Jacobson had been fined R20 000 for swearing at officials and for improper behaviour has led to a public reaction – mostly supporting the jockey on his good character and track record.

National Horseracing AuthorityBut also arguing that in the interests of fairness, both sides of the story should be conveyed in instances where the NHA effectively damages the reputation of an individual with the stroke of a pen.

“There was wrongdoing on both sides in this matter. This is completely unfair and demoralising. Swearing at an individual is not akin to swearing in their presence. Go to any training centre or racecourse. Like it or not, swearing is part of the vocabulary of many jockeys. It goes with the stress – the edge of working and living in the territory,” says a close friend of Billy Jacobson’s who spoke to the Sporting Post.

“It may look glamorous, but a jockey has a very high pressured job. They put their lives at risk every single day. They are constantly under the watchful eye of every spectator, stipe, commentator and punter. They need to earn a living, keep a roof over their heads, feed their families, stay alive, ride under stressful and frustrating conditions, watch their weight – and by constantly having to shed weight to enable them to at least get one ride they deprive their bodies of electrolytes and nutrients,” she added.

She suggested that all of this combined pressure could often put the individual on a knife edge.

“Surely anybody with compassion, basic training  and simple common sense would understand this?”

Billy Jacobson was apparently initially approached by the starter in a threatening and intimidating way while passing a horse through the stalls at Summerveld.

Billy Jacobson – was provoked

“Mr B Ngcobo approached Billy in an unprofessional and threatening manner. He was about to jump a highly strung horse out of the starting pens and Mr Ngcobo tried to engage Billy about something unrelated to the job at hand. This was definitely not the time and place for it. If the Stipe had an issue he should have approached Billy in a professional manner at a suitable time and place with the correct protocols in place. Not while he sat on the back of a fractious animal, endangering the lives of his horse and himself – and others. Even after Billy asked one of the Stipes’ colleagues to please back off, Mr Ngcobo  continued to provoke him.”

Our source says that there were other jockeys present who witnessed what happened.

“In Billy’s defence, he can surely argue that he was provoked? Whilst he was on his horse minding his own business and doing his job he was approached in an intimidating and threatening manner by Mr B Ngcobo with no regard to the fragility of the situation or consideration of the potential danger.”

It is felt that if Jacobson has been charged for a contravention of rule 72.1.25 then Mr B Ngcobo, who approached and allegedly antagonised the jockey, needs to be charged accordingly. In fact, only after the approach did Billy react and breach rule 72.1.18.

“And the quantum of the fine is also puzzling. Billy doesn’t even earn that in a month – how do they ascertain the appropriate sum? If these rules are there to protect everyone then they need to see both sides. Rules should be there to protect everyone,” said the source, who confirmed that Billy Jacobson would be appealing and that this interview was provided by a third party without prejudice.

We await the day when the NHA will treat matters of dealing with their errant officials with the same transparent enthusiasm and expediency that they do with jockeys and trainers.

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37 comments on “Stipe Provoked Jockey

  1. Brian says:

    I smelt a rat right from the beginning. That is why NHA have not told the full story

    Where is the transparency Mr Moodley.

    Mr Jacobson as a retired Advocate of 44 years experience seek out a lawyer and if there are any in the mood for a good price, help this man.

    for a start the fine is pathetically high and I will bet my pension this would never have been a guilty verdict in a court of law.

    Mr Moodley where are you?

  2. Andre Joubert says:

    This is comical to a certain extent but it is the sad reality.

  3. David Goss says:

    Problem is that racing is largely by people who don’t have clue about training, riding etc of horses. Also most come from all walks of life and become experts. I have known Billy for 20 years and a nicer guy you will not find. Typical the NHA are one sided.

  4. Philip Goldberg says:

    R20000, what a joke.

  5. Editor says:

    Trainer Clinton Binda called the Sporting Post to place on record that he has known Starter Solly Ngcobo since he commenced in 2006.
    “I have never had an issue with Mr Ngcobo and believe me, I have an issue with most people! He is a gentleman and a mild mannered guy who treats everybody with respect. I do not know Mr Jacobson personally, but feel that this matter needs to be ventilated in full in order to illustrate exactly what happened. I trust that the full facts will be made known in the interests of fair play.”

  6. Chelsea says:

    On another note, I have witnessed moments when the NHRA take it upon themselves to act like the NCR by blocking jockeys from being able to ride and earn an income for not paying outstanding fines which are exorbitant in cases like this.

    The question most jockeys have and I have personally heard them say it,”Where does this money for the fines go to” – “could we see a breakdown of where the fines go to?”

    Surely it should go towards a NPO such as the Coastal Horse Care Unit?

  7. Deezo says:

    Both sides of the story should have been heard before passing judgement. R20K is ridiculously exorbitant, not to mention Billy’s reputation. I truly hope this was just a minor misunderstanding and that no racial lines are drawn. There must have been witness’s at the start to give their version.

  8. Dennis Isaacs says:

    Disgraceful. ….We support Billy Jacobson…..Stripes look into this matter urgently and come to a reasonable conclusion. We as the public are watching you

  9. Michael Frankham says:

    Lester Piggott suffered a similar fate on his ride on The Malster in Cape Town after Lester’s mount was hopelessly left at the start (15 lengths?), he won the race but was fined by the starter. I wonder how the two fines equate in today’s monetary value…although I am not sure how much Lester Piggott was fined back then. Just curious!

  10. James George says:

    Was this starter not the one that loaded horses into the incorrect stalls. Did he not get a –just do not do that again–from the NHA, whereas the ten jockeys involved got R 10 000 fines.

  11. J. Akkiah says:

    Surely this is a first time incident on both sides
    There should be a hearing and a warning

  12. Jason says:

    The whole issue starts with the communication. The NHRA carry no information of relevance. Same as in the Derryl Daniels matter, the story is totally one-sided. It is important that the NHRA should have made reference to the action, if any, taken against their officials. But once again, it’s Big Brother cracking the whip and the rest of us must fall in line.

  13. Pops says:

    Michael, Lester Piggott was fined R 500.You do the maths. Think this race was at Scottsville Natal during the Bull Brand International race meeting..Because Lester did not like shelling out for anything least of all taxes,he did not pay the fine

  14. Yugen says:

    Mr Moodley and his investigation team fail the small time owners and jockeys. They just smile and show their teeth with the so called top trainers and jockeys. No respect for these people.

  15. Siven says:

    It seems to me that in the fine the authorities have factored in the costs of holding the hearing. If they choose to use lawyers from Johannesburg to conduct the hearing why should the the person appearing be unduly burdened and receive a fine not commensurate with the offense. I know Billy Jacobson and to me he is a gentleman. I will accept that Mr Ngcobo is also a gentleman. It is not about them. A highly tense environment is capable of bringing out the worst in the best of us.
    Be consistent. You give trainers fines of R25000,00 for doping offenses which involves dishonesty and you give a fine of R20000,00 for someone who swore another.

    Maybe the reason why a statement is being made in a case like this is to deflect from a number of other areas that they should be investigating and charging individuals but they turn a blind eye.

    Don’t make people like Billy Jacobson a scapegoat.

  16. Grant says:

    I find it hard to believe that Solly Ngcobo was the one who behaved badly as I have never seen him disrespect anyone even when been abused by trainers. He’s an absolute gentleman

  17. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    Nasty…..nothing has changed still the Ivory Tower protecting their own and generating business for the suits……nasty. I can imagine the conversation that was had by the powers……nasty. 20K tells you how nasty. They are wriggling in there leather chairs with glee at the response……this is how they like it……….nasty. You watch sport of all codes everyday in all aspects where do you see R 20,000 fines for swearing ? a yellow card, a point deducted, a position lost…….NHRA enjoy’s its image it seems ……nasty.

  18. Donald says:

    The Maltster win did occur at Scottsville and not Cape Town.

    The facts of this particular incident are not known save to say that a 20K fine appears excessive and one wonders if the incident occurred with a top five jockey what the outcome would have been ? Methinks ” no further action ” would be the answer ! In the circumstances the N.H.R.A. owe the public and those involved a FULL explanation of the incident to ensure that clarity on the matter is revealed in the light of day.

  19. Chris Swart says:

    This reverts to the views expressed after the Daniels incident.
    While Rome was in near cinders with two officials a disgrace, Daniels was hung, drawn and quartered.

    Those in glass houses should not cast the first stone.

    The incident took a huge chunk of a man’s livelihood and the incident was not fully disclosed.

    Why not place both parties under voice stress analysis and the relevant data will show who is the gentleman and who is the rogue ?

    I’ve advocated for this and transparency. If you have personnel employed by an organisation that requires surpreme integrity, you can not have them running the ship as they will.

    The public needs to know they’re above reproach and not rely on hearsay and NHA propoganda

  20. Cecil Pienaar says:

    I hope this fine is reduced or suspended on appeal, sounds a bit harsh. Then again, there is always 3 sides to a story. More important, Billy Jacobson does not get many rides in my home province as is. Hope this incident doesn’t make it even worse.

    Mr Ed, just for interest sake, where does “fines monies” go….

  21. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Thank You Ed, interesting. (oops, I missed Robyn’s comment) Too many Easter eggs with the Grand kids, LoL

    Look fwd to Scottsville meet t-m (weather permitting) where Billy has one ride, Race 1, Big outsider for the Quartet at best.

    Happy Easter

  22. Pops says:

    How do Mr. Vee Moodley and the NHA that he heads square this.A top racing official,if not,THE top racing official punches a member of the public in the face in full view of the racing public.He gets found guilty of Rule 72.1.26 behave or conduct himself in such a manner which has or might have the effect of
    discrediting horse racing or which does or might bring into disrepute the good name
    He has to pay a fine of R 10 000.
    A jockey is found guilty of 72.1.25 misbehave himself or conduct himself in an improper manner and Rule 72.1.18 Using some flowery language.All this far from the public eye.
    This jockey also has to pay R 10 000.
    Contrite or not contrite does not sit well with some.

  23. Jim says:

    Legend has it the stipes asked lester if he called the starter a see you next Tuesday. He replied that depends on whether you call this see you a starter.

  24. Brian says:

    Michael you’re right about Lestor Pigget and his ride was The Malster but wasn’t it at Scotsville andd the race was then the Bullbrand International?

  25. Brian says:

    Reading all these submissions what is quite apparent is that no one here has pointed any finger at Mr Ngcobo and correctly so. Obviously things got heated to what extent only those present will know.

    The fact remains that in view of that cool heads most certainly did not prevail.

    That is why in my view a court of law should decide, unless of course both parties sit down like gentleman, either box it out or shake hands.

    Transparent Mr Moodley should get involved, tell them both to sort it out, and scrap the fine.

    If you need a reason Mr Moodley, those that keep racing alive say so.

    Maybe you’ve forgotten who they are. THE PUNTERS!!!

  26. Donald says:

    Brian please do not forget the long suffering owners who on average get a minus 80% return on their investment into the sport so without PUNTERS & OWNERS there is no horse racing and therefore no livelihood for trainers , jockeys , grooms , breeders , stipes , bookmakers , and the rest of the support cast that depend on the sport for their daily bread !

  27. James George says:

    Has Tellytrack become a sports channel?Punters (the ones that keep racing alive) were informed that from 6am daily they could bet online on Australian racing.And Tellytrack would be broadcasting those races live on DSTV 239.
    But it seems that has been scrapped. From 6am Tellytrack is broadcasting a sports round up program.They proudly display on this Racing channel the program at 6 am.as
    -Sports Headlines
    -Fairview Racing Previews
    -Social Media Trends with Refilwe Mekoa
    -Sports Preview with Shane MacGregor.
    If you lucky you might see an 1/8 of the screen with no audio of an Australian horse race you have backedgood money on
    Surely Tellytrack should be a horse racing channel and not having one to watch how the Cricket World Cup is manufactured whilst a Hong Kong race is running somewhere in the back ground without audio.
    Whose idea is this? .

    1. Editor says:

      We will ask for a clarifying comment, James

    2. Editor says:

      They listened to your comment. What do you think of the new format , James?


  28. Brian says:

    Donald, thank you. I’ve been an owner but I was a punter first. That’s why I became an owner.

    And you’re right, to me, it’s no longer fun. But it’s not the punters fault the stakes are pathetic. That’s another issue altogether.

    The more punters that pack it in means even less in the pot and that leads to the elite and extremely wealthy owning. It has always been but there was a place for the small guy, the small punter.

    That following is dwindling and believe me the elite won’t be the saviours of racing in South Africa there simply aren’t enough of them to sustain racing and it will fall.

    Whether or not the NHA believe the have a role to play in the success or failure of racing, maybe adapting an attitude, we’re nor Gold Circle we’re not Phumelela they’re independent and on their own, nothing to do with us, THEY ARE WRONG!!!

    They will go down with the ship.

    That is why this issue has me really mad.

    If racing was in a great place they could adapt the attitude of an autocratic army and slap everybody into shape with their big sticks or whatever. But it’s not and they have a huge role to play and fining people 20k does not help the game therefore the players in it from the owner to the R6 punter.

  29. Peter Dembitzer says:

    James, tellytrack and phumelela care very little about the punter(who pay their salaries)Only interested in the size of the pools with brainwashed presenters going on ad nuseam.
    Ironically a show like under starters orders adds hugely to the exotics and a lot of trainers comments are invaluable.
    Sadly this has been destroyed firstly by often meaningless early morning racing, very long winded presenters and now the ridiculous sports show.
    Cape Town preview was a fiasco with scratched horses still in the betting and the presenter announcing that Domeyer was riding. The scratchings and Domeyer (who was stood down) were available before the show aired.
    Racing has become a huge bore with many meetings cancelled, delayed and shoes being refitted.
    A very badly run circus


    The presenters can’t pronounce words properly and that being their first language. We have to hear about Futsal non-stop.

    Futsal is ok and well-intended, but for another platform. Some of the presenters definitely don’t do there homework on the content that they are required to air.

    Give me “3 go’s” on air and I’ll deliver a more exciting, accurate and diverse view, on the days business, than many of the clock-watchers employed by Tellytrack …jokes aside.

    Wakey wakey, ask the punters which information they value the most, 5 minutes before the off.

    And then of course, there’s trend of prices of horses tipped as a pattern through the course of the day. Fav’s are put up more, early on, and then as as the “get out stakes” scenario looms, the 8 to 12/1 shots are put up in the last couple of races…… such predictable patterns of presentation.

    Peter, Brian and James, I hear you.


    And then you have the Studio producers and OB Van people. You guys would do well to balance the picture to the action -vs- the picture to the presenters.

    Another thing, Kenilworth, catch a wake up and change your camera positions. Less focus on your takeaways and more effort of the pictures that you relay.

    GP racing, cricket and most others sports are always innovating for more exciting action shots and camera positions.

    I have to say that the PE package isn’t that shabby with Mrs. Rapson, considering them being the “poor cousins” of racing. Well done Lady, and not a predictable show either.

  32. Brian says:

    Hear hear William! Watching the canter past is synonymous with watching a horses arse.
    They haven’t moved with the times

  33. What about showing FEATURE races from an eye in the sky? Or from a vehicle on the inside of the track? And using simulated (canned) galloping sounds which even a grade 1 student can tell is false?

    Don’t fix things that are not broken so please return Tellytrack to it’s previous format warts and all. Who wants to watch and listen to the drivel that the boss and his cronies (one of whom is yet to win a Soccer 6, 10 13 or whatever) if my memory serves me well How embarrassed the poor man must be.

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