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Cape Jock In Shock As Durban July Dream Shattered

Opportunity of a lifetime hits a brick wall

For previously disadvantaged jockey Robert Khathi, a lifetime ambition to ride in the Vodacom Durban July lies in tatters after a failure by National Horseracing Authority management to exercise a measure of flexibility and discretion this past week.

Cape-based jockey Robert Khathi, a father of four, had the rug literally pulled from under his feet by the National Horseracing Authority on Thursday when blocked from taking six rides for the Kenilworth racemeeting on 23 June.

And he now also misses out on a possible engagement for the powerful Snaith Racing Team in their quest to win the Vodacom Durban July for the fourth consecutive year.

An emotional Simukeliswa ‘Robert’ Khathi, who was plucked from the relative obscurity of Umlazi High School in KZN at the tender age of 16 to join the SA Jockey Academy,  told the Sporting Post on Thursday evening that he was stunned when blocked from rides he had already accepted.

Robert Khathi – rendered a disservice by the NHRA senior management (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

He had not been given prior warning that the NHRA had decided to implement a month’s suspension and said that he was both professionally embarrassed, as he had effectively let trainers and owners down, and was worried about the financial predicament as he had been given no chance to budget or plan.

“I accepted the six rides for Wednesday in the normal course of my professional commitments as nobody had contacted me to inform me that my suspension would be implemented. Mr Robert Bloomberg has been assisting me and he was communicating with the National Horseracing Authority as regards a possible appeal and the matter being confirmed by the inquiry review board. It’s a competitive game and letting people down is not the way to go about getting  the support from trainers to ensure that we can put food on the table,” said a devastated Khathi.

The Sporting Post has learnt that  as an implementation of his suspension, Khathi’s mounts for Kenilworth on Wednesday 23 June were scratched for reason of his non availability.

This system block was implemented by the racing regulator’s Gauteng management, despite them being aware that no time or financial resources were available for the jockey to lodge an appeal or a civil action.

We recently reported that first-offender Khathi had incurred a seemingly harsh punishment of a month suspension for his ride on Fateful on the gelding’s return after a 138 day break, at Kenilworth on 3 May.

Khathi was legally represented at the subsequent inquiry. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, but was found guilty.

The Inquiry Board, after considering all the factors tendered in mitigation and aggravation, imposed a penalty of a suspension in riding in races for a period of thirty days.

Khathi was given the Right of Appeal against the finding and the penalty imposed.

The Sporting Post has learnt that at the completion of the Inquiry, it was agreed by the chairman of the Inquiry Board, Nic Shearer, and presenter, Ernie Rodrigues, that this matter would go to the Inquiry Review Board to consider the severity of the penalty imposed as the family man did not have the financial resources at his disposal to appeal.

Messrs Rodriques and Shearer  were also aware that Khathi had a potential July ride lined up, and in sympathetic consideration thereof, did not want him to lose out as after 20 years of riding he finally had an opportunity of realising every jockey’s dream of a ride in Africa’s greatest race.

Rodriques and Shearer must be acknowledged for exercising professional discretion and for their sensitivity to this issue.

“I was shocked by the month suspension but accepted the process would walk its course. I appreciate that the Stipes are doing their job and I respect the findings. But the decision to spring the suspension on me puzzled Mr Bloomberg and has left me stunned,” added the hardworking jockey.

Racing Executive Arnold Hyde – no leeway

Khathi’s legal counsel  was advised that NHRA Racing Executive Arnold Hyde had ‘handcuffed’ the Western Cape Stipendiary Board and had issued instructions that the Inquiry Review Board would not review the matter and that Khathi’s Notice of Intention to Appeal must be lodged – that being on the last of the 7 days allowed.

Counsel for Khathi had requested an extension in which to raise the necessary appeal deposit of R8 950.

Khathi is married and has four young children. The request for a compassionate extension was denied by the NHRA Racing Executive and thus the appeal had accordingly expired.

Khathi is thus to commence his suspension from his last carded ride on Sunday 20 June

South Africa’s leading horseracing attorney, Bloomberg then advised NHRA CEO Vee Moodley that Rule 85.20 explicitly stated that where an appeal had lapsed ‘no penalty shall be effective until the Inquiry Review Board has confirmed it.’ This also fell in line with the terms of the Western Cape Board’s original ruling.

NHRA CEO Vee Moodley – cited a rule

According to Bloomberg, Mr Moodley responded citing rule 86.1.1.4 which he says contradicts Rule 85.20 – all a matter of interpretation in the vastly experienced legal counsel’s opinion – and confirmed the suspension.

Bloomberg told the Sporting Post that both the CEO and Racing Executive were aware that on Monday 21 June, the day after the suspension became effective, final declarations for the Vodacom Durban July are due.

“Moodley and Hyde have collectively denied a previously disadvantaged black jockey the possible opportunity of riding in the country’s greatest showpiece. Could they not have waited an extra day?” said a clearly emotional Bloomberg.

Bloomberg added that the NHRA management will likely defend their actions and endeavour to hide behind their so-called rules and allege fairness to all.

But for the reasons already stated he said that stakeholders and the racing public can draw their own conclusions and decide whether the racing industry is ‘in safe and capable hands’.

“I have openly stated that horseracing in South Africa will only survive for as long as MOD keeps pouring money down a bottomless pit – but even that has an end game. From my perspective, as long as certain individuals remain in control at the domain they call the NHRA, I give racing three years before the doors are shut.”

The Sporting Post has given the NHRA an opportunity to respond. This will be published when received.

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46 comments on “Cape Jock In Shock As Durban July Dream Shattered

  1. Nic Botes says:

    I find the NHRA’s autocratic way of handling the Khathi appeal shocking. Firstly his sentence should not have been that harsh .He already accepted the rides and that was clearly visible for everyone to see . This young man is the first to help out when needed in times when other jockeys take rides in bigger meetings .Now that he gets his well deserved break Mr Hyde and and co blocks him. Mr Hyde do the honorable thing and resign. Racing dont need you.

  2. Leonie says:

    This has hit me like a ton of bricks like a punch to my chest. So disappointed and angry that this has happened to a young man with 4 small children. His first offense.. FIRST. A dream shattered. Do the powers that be even have a heart . Do they even know how it feels to loose 1 months salary. With four kids. Guilty or not. There is such a thing as empathy. He can take his punishment but Why be callous and deny him the chance of riding in the most prestigious race. This comes across as we in charge take it or leave it. We in charge. So be it. Wonder if 1 months salary just taken away from them for wrong decisions. But then there is no such thing. The final decision is theirs. But a young man who has tried his best in racing to make a living and has this great opportunity has shattered his dream… Its shattered me.. they could have made a plan… Its not like he was not going to take his punishment. So why??? Give this boy his July ride stop this we are infalable. Stop and think. Stop and understand. Stop and realise what if it was me… Just stop. GIVE HIM BACK HIS RIDE. This is so unfair and not warrented. He never even was told WHEN his suspension was to begin. Do the right thing for once with a thought of fulfilling a dream not destroying it…. He will do his time and suffer to feed his family… So don’t add this on top… Its not right or fair

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Leonie Dillon – welcome

  3. G says:

    I fully agree with you Leonie,it’s not enough that we are going through a pandemic as it is already and to give such a harsh penalty and them full knowingly that he has a opportunity of a life time to ride in the Vodacom July,this really saddens me for the love of the sport,they couldn’t just stand by his side as Brothers and share in the joy of seeing his DREAM come true!!!

    1. Editor says:

      Germaine Fabin

  4. Avinash says:

    Disappointing

  5. Spiteful, conceited, narcissistic behaviour, destroying what’s left of racing, bit by bit.

  6. Ingie says:

    It’s a very harsh sentence implemented to a very honorable and hardworking jockey.
    This is history repeating itself so disappointing…

  7. Elroy Schoeman says:

    Why are they putting the blame on him the horse came from a lay off, it could have been that the horse was totally unfit, thus not responding to the jockies call for excelaration.This is normal behaviour from any species.

  8. Corrie says:

    All the Jockeys should refuse to ride on the day , if everyone stick together and stand for one and other this fair dream for everyone will be a reality. Everyone in the whole country should prolong ALL races on the 20th June 2021 to make show the stipes that this need to be a fair game and let everyone have a equal chance comes D day.

    1. Editor says:

      Corrie van Zyl

  9. Dennis Isaacs says:

    DISGUSTING…The NHRA should be investigated by some integrity commission……really not acceptable….punishment does not fit the crime

  10. Kesi Naidoo says:

    A truly harsh and insensitive decision, the racing public need to make their views on this matter known. All sectors, jockeys, trainers, owners and punters need to be united in their opposition to this ill advised decision.

  11. Selwyn Elk says:

    Very sad state of affairs. I wonder how these dictators sleep at night, contemplating whether to stop at red robots, shame on them!!!

  12. Kenny Masilela says:

    Surely Vee Moodley has reached his expiry date. He has occupied every possible position in racing and under his watch racing fell apart. I do not know what is so special about this guys. He does not help black people in any way in racing. He is arrogant and out of touch with reality.

  13. Nad Pillay says:

    In this tough economic times when people are just getting by financially this bull**** happens. Cut this boy some slack. Review the punishment. Be flexible with implementation and find a win win solution for all parties and move on with your lives. Stop wasting money on unnecessary legal costs. To the powers that be. Catch a wake

  14. RICHARD WARD says:

    Inconceivable that anybody could be so callous in enforcing this sentence when there are clearly mitigating circumstances.

  15. Victor David says:

    What an absolute bunch of henchmen Who shouldn’t have so much power. Destroying an already dying Sport

  16. Mayen Naidoo says:

    There is no consistency in the penalties imposed on the jockeys. Soon all our top jockeys will leave our shores.

  17. Charles Vosloo says:

    The problem lies with the NHRA.

  18. Mark says:

    I feel for Robbie! Hard working fella and I’m sure it is his biggest dream is to ride in the July like any other South African jocks. Obviously the NHRA were aware of the situation and could of advised him the best way forward so that he could of kept his engagement for the biggest race in Africa.

    1. Editor says:

      Mark Neisius

  19. Colin Aitken says:

    Words totally fail me.!

  20. Johannes says:

    Does the NHRA really help with transformation in SA?…i guess not…

    1. Editor says:

      Johannes Jonkers

  21. Alwyn West says:

    How many times in the past have we seen Jocks who have a ride in an upcoming big race and a suspension to serve, start serving it after that ride?

  22. Selwyn Elk says:

    In a previous post I referred to these authoritarians as dictators, the word “ dictator “ actually flatters them ! ! !

  23. Logan Naidoo says:

    Does Vee Moodley have a legal background? When your own rules contradict each other, then there’s not much one can say.

  24. Sean Coetzee says:

    Robert, always pleasant and hard working deserves better than this. I see a picture of a previous Phumelela executive in this article. Walk away, hang your head in shame with regard to how you and your executive colleagues ran Phumelela into the ground! Robert, if anybody deserves suspension and expulsion, it s those execs!!!! No shame at all!!! Hope you get your ride!!

  25. George McDonald says:

    Selwyn, remember some were not always dictators.Or else they were but had good hearts.
    Remember the Anton Marcus Legal Eagle dismount on the track surrounded by well wishers.
    Arnold Hyde did what most thought was a great gesture for racing when he had a kumbaya moment. He said–
    We are aware that the jockey in this instance interacted with the reception group that were on the track to meet horse and rider. While strictly in terms of the rules, the jockey is required to proceed after dismounting directly to the weigh-in, it is a difficult one and a measure of discretion was applied given the emotion and adrenalin in the context of the enormity of the day and the extraordinary atmosphere that prevailed.

    Measure of discretion.Extraordinary atmosphere that now prevails.

  26. Sean Hendricks says:

    What the NHRA doesn’t want our ordinary racing public to know is. The facts that should have been taken into consideration. 1 the horse in question Fateful came back from a fracture. 2 never had a gallop on the grass grass with minimal work was thrown into a race. Robert was aware of the injury and the amount of work the horse had done thus trying not to push it to hard and risk injuring it again. 3. The trainer engaged it again at his very next start. I’m of the opinion certain rules apply to certain jock no fairness what so ever.

  27. Tiger Pillay says:

    Jockeys must not mess with punters money
    This is happening to often
    Once proven guilty they should be banned for life
    There’s too much of corruption
    Authorities must stand up to save the sport

  28. Jay August says:

    Tiger Pillay, your wish is soon to be granted. Here are some of the means by which the stipes will adjudicate racing integrity in future under the build back better NHA.

    1 – the number of children the jockey has – the more the more lenient.
    2 – the ranking of the trainer in the trainers log – the higher the more lenient.
    3 – the number of commenters on SP who agree with the more lenient application of the rules.

    All of this is intended to take us away from the dreadful past and place us firmly on the great road forward where integrity is the will of the commentariat skilfully shaped by the anointed.

    In this new build back better scenario the only life banning will be for those ousted and those who do not yield or agree whole heartedly with the new arbitrary rules set by the anointed.

    When next you get asked – “whose side are you on?” – that trick question has only one correct answer.

  29. Jay August says:

    Sean Hendricks, if what you allege is true then two actions should have followed.

    1 – the trainer should have notified the stipes of this, who in turn should have notified the public.
    2 – the jock should have notified the stipes of his riding instructions and the public notified of same.

    I am not sure who you are but in the interest of fair disclosure please indicate your proximity in relationship to the jockey so that full disclosure and assessment of your revelation is can be made.

  30. Victor van Wyk says:

    Rules is rules.face the music.

  31. Donald Bradshaw says:

    Jay, when last did you hear of the public being notified of a riding instruction or a change of riding instructions ? The first and last time I heard of such an occurrence was about six months ago when I was astounded to hear the race caller announce to the public ” this horse will be ridden cold ”

    That was the first and last time I heard of the public being notified of any riding instructions ?

    So the question is what are the rules when it comes to riding instructions and more to the point ” do race horse trainers have an obligation to advise the NHRA of riding instructions or change of riding instructions and , if so , what are the responsibilities of the NHRA to advise the public and by what means is this information to be conveyed and when ” or can the NHRA just use their discretion and decide ” this information is not for public consumption as it will not affect the punter or the possible outcome of the race ” ?

  32. Jay August says:

    Donald, you have missed my point.

    How does Sean know this and why does he know this but neither of us? Before I adjudicate any of this I want to know exactly who Sean is and why he knows this information. Frankly SP should be asking that question. How much else does he know that is never disclosed either to the stipes or the public. How much is stipe omission and how much is trainer and jockey omission.

    Making these statements post race is just too convenient.

    Three questions:
    1 – did the jockey inform the stipes of his riding instructions pre-race?
    2 – did the trainer do likewise?
    3 – if they did not why is that now a defence?

  33. Donald Bradshaw says:

    Hi Jay , understand your request for clarification from Sean as to the comments he made but my point in respect of ” riding instructions ” and the right of the public to be advised , if so desired , by the NHRA appears to me to be an extremely ” grey area ” and therefore it would be informative for the public to be advised of what are the rules pertaining to this subject , if any such rules exist ?

    This subject could be clarified by the NHRA at the drop of a hat but one gets nothing out of that august institution in terms of information and responses to pertinent issues and matters that affect the horse racing public !

  34. Sean Hendricks says:

    Hi Jay. I’m a normal guy who sits and chats to a few owners; trainers and jocks. I will never post something I’m not 100% sure of as I do not believe in spreading rumors. After reading a few of the above comments I just felt some of it to be unfair to make a judgement if you don’t have all the facts and yes Robert is a friend and so is a few of the owners of the horse in question.

    Why was Mr Khathi engaged to ride the horse again next time out if he never rode the horse out the time before??

  35. Jay August says:

    Sean and Donald.

    The rules pertaining to horses in races are simple and I paraphrase from my knowledge of these. Every horse shall be given every chance to win in a race. If a trainer or jockey were therefore to declare beforehand that they were not trying but merely giving the horse a run that horse should be scratched as a non-trier.

    It is quite simple therefore. The Stipes believe every horse is a trier. Any horse declared beforehand as a potential non-trier should be scratched. The excuse in retrospect that a horse was not trying or had reasons to be softly ridden because of x, y or z is of no substance and should be ignored as a defence.

  36. Steve Reid says:

    @Jay in theory you are spot on but unfortunately the reality is different. Here I refer to the lack of comment or action against horses entered into races as obvious pacemakers for the stable elect, mostly in big races. There are many examples of this coming from different provinces. Unfortunately the “rules are guidelines” mindset is very much in play when it comes to the crowd in their ivory towers at Turffontein. A perfect example of my guidelines theory is no 72.1.26 – the infamous bringing racing into disrepute rule – action taken against those calling for the heads of Hyde and Moodley. I would love an explanation why Mike de Kock and Bob Bloomberg have not been charged under this rule taking previous charges into account. The answer is simple, the bullies in charge do not have the balls. Selective usage of the rules to punish individuals shows the lack of integrity within the organization clearly and I am hopeful that individual colour holders use the upcoming SGM to start the cleansing process..

  37. M(artin)Gram(matica) says:

    Steve Reid you must be off your head if you think that Mike and Robert should be charged for exercising their right as members of the NHA to highlight problems in that organization. It is called democracy.

  38. Steve Reid says:

    Martin all I ask for is consistency which is something the NHA struggle with. For the record I am a huge believer in democracy.

  39. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    In the days when stipes had teeth and earned respect they scratched a horse called Pedometer when they overheard Mrs Heming telling her owners the horse was using the race to prep for something else.

    its the one thing arithmetic cannot solve – the line horse probably does not run to its rating 70% of the time.

  40. Jay August says:

    Rod, considering that 70% of Cape races have field-fillers to make up a race, the Stipes, were they with teeth would abandon most race meetings there. Perhaps they should.

  41. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    Jay – maybe – it certainly would save batteries for the calculators

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