Riley Is No Clown In This Circus

Saturday will go down as a turning point

I read with interest about the NHA’s battles with trainer Tony Peter and I am sure young Tony appreciates having someone of the calibre of Advocate Nigel Riley going up against the NHA’s lawmen.

Dave Stone of Bryanston writes in the Sporting Post Mailbag that Riley successfully assisted him with a personal matter some years ago and is wondering if this will end well for the racing authority. They are probably thinking the same.

Legal Eagle Nigel Riley and Catherine Hartley

Anybody watching Riley at the TBA sales complex on Sunday would not have noticed any signs of him having been awake until 12.30 am the previous evening drafting an urgent High Court application on behalf of Tony Peter, against the NHA, for the upliftment of the suspension imposed after the Summer Cup meeting on Saturday.

In fact Riley, as always, looked remarkably relaxed and composed. He sold one of his two-year-olds for R200,000

I am told that the urgent application was served on the NHA by 8.30 am on Sunday and was accepted at about 11 am by the Johannesburg High court for a hearing scheduled for 4pm yesterday (Monday) 27 November.

Unlike Riley it appears that the NHA were not having such a relaxed Sunday, and eventually hauled up the white flag at about 9.30 pm on Sunday and lifted Tony ‘s suspension. One has to wonder what roughly 12 hours of Sunday time will cost the NHA in law fees?

The damage caused to the racing industry and to the trainer’s reputation by the NHA officials who were responsible for the scratching of his runners on what is the biggest race day in Gauteng is immeasurable.

It must’ve had an effect too on the many first-time racegoers attending an event held by an industry that already has a public perception of being crooked.

I believe, however, that Saturday will go down in history as a turning point.

Riley is fast becoming the Bete Noir of the NHA – his success in the Peter matter; the dismissal recently of the prohibited substances charges against trainer Corne Spies after a very long enquiry and various other NHA member-related charges are testimony to his ability as an advocate, and the advantage he has of knowing every aspect of the industry, due to him being an owner and breeder as well as having previously been a trainer and a jumps jockey.

From what I’ve seen, the most formidable thing about Riley is that he has complete confidence in his own ability, without any arrogance. Because of this Judges tend to love him.

And I believe the NHA don’t as they may well be shown up yet again in this case. Go Nigel, let’s get to the bottom of things.

The racing nation awaits the outcome!

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