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.
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.