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Top Owner Quits SA Racing

Chase Maujean won - and he is being punished

Former National Horseracing Authority Board Member Laurence Wernars, one of the country’s leading owners, has decided to call it a day with his racing interests.

This follows an NHRA inquiry on Tuesday into the ride by Chase Maujean on the Wernars owned first-timer Puerto Manzano, who dead-heated with stablemate Thumbs Up (Raymond Danielson) in the first race at Turffontein on 29 September.

Laurence Wernars in the centre (Pic – JC Photos)

The dead-heat by two runners in the same silks from the same stable was an historic moment in our racing – but it also evolved into a turning point for a successful businessman who, for the past thirty years, has invested heavily in the sport on the racing and breeding front.

“The wound is still very fresh and I’d prefer to issue a formal press release in a few days. But I’m happy to confirm to you that I will be disposing of my racehorses, but retaining my stallion and broodmare interests,” he told the Sporting Post on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Wernars joined the NHRA Board in December 2019 but resigned a week ago when he was labelled as having a ‘conflict of interests’.

“It is inevitable that NHRA Board Members may also be owners or other stakeholders invested in the sport. I declared upfront to the NHRA that I wished to be a witness in this Inquiry as I own both horses and was privvy to the instructions given by the trainer to the jockeys. Yet, together with the jockeys and the trainer, I have had my integrity brought into question. I have spent my entire life building up a successful business – this leaves a sour taste,” he added.

Mr Wernars said that he had enjoyed four first-time winners this year – all at relatively unfancied odds – and the jockeys had not used the whips on them.

“We get behind the principle of reducing the use of the whip, then punish a jockey as he is deemed not to have used the whip sufficiently. There is nothing in the rules that says a jockey has to use his whip. Chase’s mount is bred for 2000m and he made up a lot of ground. Chase got him up to dead-heat. In other words, he is being punished for effectively winning. Who knows how the result would have gone if he had made more liberal use of the whip?”

A press release is awaited from the NHRA in regard to the Inquiry and Laurence Wernars’ press release will also be published once received.

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33 comments on “Top Owner Quits SA Racing

  1. freeracer01 says:

    They’ll just appoint another Advocate to NHA Board (probably also from Maisels 3, the Altus Joubert clan), what do they care? Rotten from the inside out. But this is what it takes to expose deeply flawed organisations – their big shots calling it a day and giving them the finger in public. Good for racing overall on the one hand, sad on the other. Hope Mr Wernars reconsiders ownership of racehorses. They’ll be laughing in the NHA Boardroom, the only way to screw them is to take them on and beat them.

  2. Philip says:

    Sad news indeed. Mr. Werners has invested a lot of love, patience and money in the Industry.

    1. Editor says:

      Phillip Fourie

  3. Louis Goosen says:

    Very sad news. Mr Wernars is a very long standing, Owner. About 28 years ago , he was a Steward at Newmarket. He always impressed me , then and today, with his absolute enthusiasm and love of Racing in its purest form.

    I pray that he will reconsider. I also pray that NHA will get their act together and will broke a meeting to dissolve this situation. I hope that we all realise that none of us, especially not the very highly paid management of NHA are bigger than the game.

    Because that’s just not affordable to Racing. If we cannot do this, then its time for us to bring Govt in, like it or not.

  4. Paul Lebos says:

    I presume that Mr Wernars is chucking it in as an owner because he is upset and irritated by the NHRA questioning his integrity. If I am right, his decision makes no sense because by keeping his stallion and broodmare interests he stays a member of the NHRA and subject to its rules. There may be more to this decision than meets the eye.

  5. Dillon murugasen says:

    The NHA us within its rights to conduct the inquiry as a governing body and all owners are not exempt from this duty and responsiblity to the punter who gambles and expects transparency even if it displeases an eminent distinguished owner as in this case the punter is championed. In fact more inquires should conducted considering the recent spate of favourites failing to win resulting in pick 6 carryover.

  6. Dillon murugasen says:

    CHAMPIONING the integrity of racing and protecting the winning bet placed of the punter should be priority of the governing body.They have not failed in this instance and I am glad faces of owners are not looked at to conduct the said inquiry.Well done NHA infact more inquires into riding of missing favourites recently,picksix carryovers,bookmakers sponsoring jockeys and trainers,conflict of interest to name but a few.CASINOS are more predictable to make a quick buck.

  7. Joao says:

    My 2 cents worth.

    Without a doubt SA racing needs all owners. However we have lost many owners in the last 20 odds years and way more than in the 40 years before.

    I don’t want to get into the debate on the race that was the straw or the decision.

    I would rather have a FULL go at Mr Wernars by asking him why so silent when Rome has been burning for decades? How come its only when the poo hits your fan that you took a stand?

    Surely any “perceived / real injustice ” you Sir have encountered YOU witnessed this happening while in your tenure at the NHA.

    How come as recent as the PE barbarism you never drew a line in the sand?

    Or what about the Phumelela debacle?

    Or all the other countless mental decisions affecting us small people.

    What Im saying Sir is surely you saw this type of injustice happening to others before?

    for the 100369592725th time UNLESS we all stand together as owners and trainers nothing will happen.

  8. racing fan says:

    To put things in perspective as far as the NHRA is concerned. Every PE groom joined in when chasing and hitting the X Bremner trained horses with pangas and knob kieries and zero disciplinary
    action gets taken against either those grooms or their trainers whom a few hours later welcomed these offending grooms back at their respective yards after brutally attacking a now X fellow trainers horses. Then these clowns take disciplinary action against a jockey who according to them did not hit a horse enough during a race. How ironic.

    1. Editor says:

      Braam van Huyssteen

  9. Eroll Green says:

    @Lawrence,

    You are not the only person who has given up as a result of being offended or suffering something personal. Stand up to them. Make a difference.

    Errol

  10. Ugen naidoo says:

    Well Said Paul. Why do we make such a fuss about an owner that has more horses than the rest. Is he exempt of the rules because he has more horses . If you have one horse , a share in a horse or a hundred horses in training , you are still governed by the rules of the NHRA.
    Mr Goosen , why must he reconsider. It’s his choice.
    He must go if he feels he is being treated outside of the rules. Racing will survive. It has with the demise of Jooste, Van Vuren and a lot of others.
    Owners irrespective of the quantity of horses they have, should not threaten to leave the sport for publicity. It was his choice in the first place to enter the sport. If he wants to exit, do it like when you first got in, Quietly.

  11. Steve Reid says:

    The question I have is why now? We see “easies” given to horses on an almost daily basis and to be frank this is part and parcel of racing. I have on many occasions been told that my horse is going out for experience, going out as a pipe opener, needs the run etc, etc. I have seen on many occasions a former champion trainer giving horses runs to prepare them for bigger races coming up. This was particularly noticeable in conditions races where placing would not incur penalties. On many occasions these horses were the form horses and were strong favourites and were clearly using the race to get a conditioning run in. Nothing was done by our “eagle eyed” stipes there either. I ask again, why now?

    My experiences with Arnold Hyde are well documented. This snowflake would never launch this type of investigation on his own. Who gave the instruction? The rumours are swirling about possible collusion between jocks in fixing races. Dick Francis or reality?

  12. Gary Turf says:

    Corona has had a huge impact on retail

  13. Asgar Essack says:

    What is this world coming to.
    Not too long ago jockey Devin Habib
    was fined R10000 rands and suspended for excessive use of the whip.
    Now we have a situation where a jockey is investigated for failing to use the whip
    excessively.
    Our poor jockeys are now confused because it’s a question of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
    What a load of crap
    Trainer Louis Goosen is correct we need the government to step in and sort out this
    mess in horse racing.
    Please don’t use innocent jockey Chase
    Maujean as a scape goat for the possible
    Handicappers Blunder.

  14. Garrick Bergh says:

    Asgar Essack –

    I assume you wish to involve the selfsame government that has spectacularly ‘sorted out’ Eskom. SAA, SASSA, PRASA and almost every municipality outside of the Western Cape.

    Well – Former mayor Zandile Gumede might be a good fit although, at the very least, she may want another Lamborghini as her company car before even considering the position.

  15. Cecil Pienaar says:

    I look fwd to Mr Wernars press release. Surely there is more to this story…. And maybe NHA will respond if he says things that’s not true. Ok, or maybe not. Please, No Government. Yes racing needs help, I just hope there is something for MOD to take over, they very quiet !

    Pieta, wat gaan aan. Albei die man se perde wen, in een race nogal, dan gooi hy handdoek in. Nou verstaan ek amper – Quit whilst you’re ahead / on top ?

  16. Steve Reid says:

    Dear Asgar your comment ” Please don’t use innocent jockey Chase Maujean as a scape goat for the possible Handicappers Blunder” has reference.

    I assume you refer to the handicapping of the now infamous race that resulted in the dead heat of Thumbs Up and Puerto Manzano. Let’s be very clear that this was not a possible blunder by the Handicappers and Chief Executive. It is an absolute abomination of handicapping workings, knowingly executed by a team who believe that they are answerable to nobody. This is the real problem with the NHA – the culture is one of a dictatorship and not an organisation that is their to serve its members. The failure to give me – or anyone else for that matter an answer to my question regarding how these nonsensical ratings were achieved – is a clear and unambiguous message that we can all go eat cake. There is no logical answer and these people masquerading as handicappers know this.

  17. Glen Hatt says:

    After watching the rerun of the race and reading the Nhra report as published by Sporting Post, I have to differ with there reading of the race.
    Firstly,Puerto Manzano was always making up ground under the urgings of his jockey, so I struggle see how there reference to the whip and when he changed hands made such a difference. They say “clearly responded” but PM was always responding!
    Secondly, I see no pause where it materially affected the horses forward momentum , if anything he was keeping this’ first timer’ perfectly balanced in the race to the line.
    Most jockeys, myself included, would change our whip hands to try get the best out the horse which I feel Chase was clearly trying to do.
    In the Stipes report they refer to “clearly responded” in the first particular and then refer to it again in the second particular which clearly shows that there emphasis is on this section of the race.
    With all due respect to Chase. he is not a F Dettori or C Soumillion that has the ability to change whips in a split second!

  18. I M Wright says:

    Looking at the Video on the NHRA report in my humble opinion, Jockey Chase Maujean was a consummate professional jockey. Not only did he win on the horse (albeit the judges declared a dead heat), but his skill as a true horseman was exemplary in his handling of a young horse in its first race. How many times are jockeys condemned for “breaking” a horse to win. It is the paramount responsibility of all those involved in equestrian sport to ensure a high health and welfare status of their horses. Sir, you are a professional horseman, which trumps any punter’s whinging!

  19. Kenny Masilela says:

    So, let me understand this, the owner quits racing just because the NHA launched an inquiry into how a jockey rode one of his horses?

    The Jockey deserves that fine; we don’t know for sure what was on his mind but we can see the response to his actions without a doubt.

  20. Adrian Bothma says:

    Glen Hatt has given his opinion. I commend him. He is an expert. The inquiry board would not have had a jockey or ex jockey on it. They have most probably never put a leg over a horse.

    That brings me to the question why the jockeys association where Chase is a paying member and to which he belongs has not stood up for Chase and gotten him legal representation? Where is the unity from the other jockeys?

  21. Jonathan Harris says:

    Poor Puerto…what a baptism of fire. First the furore over the rating, then the jock enquiry and fine, then the owner quits. Oh dear…poor fella…must be feeling so much pressure going into his next race!

  22. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Unreal, so Chase is a bad boy now, winning on a first timer. Imagine if he had run a whisker 2nd, would the fine then be double….
    Or no action maybe, the favorite would have paid more than R1 a win….
    Mr Wernars, Sir, please get onto that press release

    Anyways, on a more positive note, good luck with today’s Vaal JP, find the lower weight upsets in Appy races 5 and 8, middle legs, small enough to play fields ?

  23. JS coetzer says:

    I agree with Glenn Hat about this whole incident The stipes must have more ex senior jockeys on their board and riding masters. To punished and fine a jockey not hitting the horse more times. It’s a crying shame. I am a punter why must the animal suffer. To me the handicapper to blame. CM ure a good jockey stay with ure morals Horses life matters. I will rather send this report to Nspca a boat the board

  24. George McDonald says:

    How many jockeys taking part in Barrier Trial races were charged with Rule 62.2.2?
    Barrier Trials were run under the under the Rules of the National Horseracing Authority,so we were told.
    Did the Stipes watch those races,and if so,did they think every jockey,rode in a Professional and Competent manner?
    Chase should appeal.Bring in some Big Guns and let NHRA explain what Professional and Competent manner means.

  25. Ralph Fell says:

    These continuing debacles by parties on all sides of the spectrum is akin to a schoolboy who has had his lunch money stolen. The average Joe punter had been subjected to a surfeit of dubious practices, back stabbing, allegations and counter allegations and smoke and mirrors for the past several years. In the mix are doubtless s few snake oil salesmen. One waits for the next bomb to drop. My silent protest is simply to bet on UK racing only because anything to do with local servings infuriates me and the collateral damage it causes. For the love of the game it’s time these pompous, opinionated numpties either get a life or hit the road. Is delivering an enjoyable product, with the attendant thrills, too much to expect?

  26. Ugen naidoo says:

    Any Reasons why my last post was not published.
    Please dont tell me you guys are guilty of double standards. I was not rude but merely stated what is happening.

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Ugen
      The post contained factually inaccurate information
      You are welcome to email us at [email protected] and provide more detail.
      Regards

  27. Bruce McKenzie. says:

    A sad day for the sport when it loses a MAN OF INTEGRITY like Mr Wernars!! I’m certainly not an expert on racing but know that Mr Wernars is an unquestionably honest gentleman!!

  28. Ugen naidoo says:

    I heard there was a bust up at jhb races on Saturday between a jockey and an ex jockey. Is this in any way related to the comments that were made regarding the deadheat. Could the sporting post pls get more details and keep us informed. I do believe its factually correct.

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Ugen
      An Inqury has been opened by the NHRA.
      it’s really not fair to expect either party to comment at this stage.

  29. M(artin)Gram(atica) says:

    Has Werners changed his mind?

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