‘Jacobson & Yeni: T20 That Became A Test Match’- Bloomberg

How a spat became

In a saga that gripped the public imagination and seemed to be in danger of dragging on forever, Muzi Yeni and Billy Jacobson have had their interim suspensions lifted.

They are back plying their trade after the National Horseracing Authority announced on Thursday afternoon that an Inquiry arising from incidents at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Monday 13 February, had been concluded.

The details of the negotiated settlement agreement reached over a few days involving the respective rider’s legal teams were outlined in a media release published by the NHA on Thursday 23 March.

While Jacobson’s counsel Robert Bloomberg told the Sporting Post that he was pleased that his client could return to a normal life as the stress had been immeasurable for him, the experienced legal man said that there were many aspects of the matter that warranted ventilation in the public domain.

Bloomberg said that unfortunately, and regrettably, there has been continued disingenuity on social media highlighted by a distortion of the true facts that necessitated him setting the record straight on behalf of his client.

“We would have preferred to have avoided this, but a one-eyed and myopic portrayal does Billy Jacobson, a grave injustice. Mr Jacobson was initially presented with 6 charges, of which 1 pertaining to social media was withdrawn.  He pleaded ‘guilty’ to the charge under Rule 72.1.25, in that he ‘conducted himself in an improper manner on racecourse property by entering into a verbal and physical altercation with Mr Yeni’ – but on the express condition that the other 4 charges were put in the alternative. In other words, they would fall away,” he added.

Robert Bloomberg – sets record straight

Bloomberg was at pains to stress that they had proved conclusively that the balance of the charges were duplicitous in that they were mirror-images of the main charge, in particular in regard to Rule 72.1.26, the ‘infamous’ rule, as he puts it, pertaining to discrediting horseracing, and he says that two charges were in fact brought under the incorrect rule reserved for licensed officials in the administration of racing.

“These charges are drafted by the NHA as represented by their Racing Control Executive, Arnold Hyde,” says Bloomberg, who goes on to explain that Jacobson had never denied his involvement in these unfortunate incidents but had always steadfastly maintained that he was severely provoked.

NHA Racing Control Executive Arnold Hyde

“The provocation on the first occasion occurred when he was effectively ridiculed and humiliated in front of his peers, colleagues and the stipes, and then – and which led to the punch-up – by having his wife and family threatened. This was testified to by Keagan de Melo who was called by the NHA as a witness as he had reported the latter incident to the stipes on the day,  yet was in defamatory fashion by Yeni, in his sworn affidavit accompanying the Notice of Motion in their High Court application, accused of having been ‘coached’ prior to testifying,” he added sombrely.

Bloomberg explained that de Melo’s evidence would have been substantiated by four witnesses in jockeys Sean Veale, Tristan Godden, Serino Moodley and Athandiwe Mgudlwa had this matter proceeded. 

“It is worth noting that Mr Yeni could not produce a single witness amongst the riding ranks of 15 that day, to corroborate his version of events. Ask yourself why would a person who in 26 years as a rider during which time he has never had a charge preferred against him in respect of showing any aggression towards a fellow rider either during or after a race, suddenly act with such anger without due cause? And remember that the letter from the Coastal Jockeys Association, which represents almost 80% of the jockeys in SA, to the NHA and which ultimately led to the interim suspensions, was entirely due to their concerns about their own member Mr Yeni’s perceived history and conduct, not about Mr Jacobson!”

Lord Rose wins at Greyville on 14-06-03

Billy Jacobson – happy it’s over and he can continue with his life (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Bloomberg goes on to stress that Billy Jacobson was contrite and apologetic from the get-go for his part in the fracas and duly pleaded ‘guilty’ to a solitary infraction as stated above at the very first hearing. 

“Mr Yeni, who in my professional opinion, had no chance of ever ‘escaping’ the main charge, pleaded ‘not guilty’ to all charges, bar having a mobile device in the jockey’s quarters. There has never been any acknowledgment of wrongdoing or accountability on his part, and he has constantly adopted a stance of the innocent ‘victim’ herein.”

Muzi Yeni – back in the saddle (Pic- Candiese Lenferna)

The legal eagle adds that his intention and goal was to settle the matter from the inception but that his client ended up becoming collateral damage in the fight between the NHA and Yeni.

“Thankfully, sanity finally prevailed with a negotiated settlement agreement over a few days involving the respective legal teams. Ultimately, it was only through the extreme generosity of benefactors that enabled Mr Jacobson to be legally represented and to have his rights protected,” he concluded.

While the process from start to finish included a single Inquiry day at the offices of the NHA’s attorneys, and an urgent High Court application by Yeni, gross legal costs of all parties during a six week battle are expected to run to in excess of the seven figure mark. 

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