Tony Peter – No Milkshaking And Disassociates Self And Dad From Demo

Turffontein trainer has his say

Being a regular reader of the Sporting Post, I read the comments of the editor regarding the unfortunate incident at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse on Saturday, and the newspapers inability to get hold of me for a comment with regards thereto.

Tony Peters writes in a statement, which is published unedited below, that this could have easily been done by making a call to him, or to his father, who, he says, was also present during the incident.

Tony Peter – opens his heart (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Unfortunately, in the past, when numerous members of my family, supporters and/or patrons of the stable have attempted to either make comments or have articles published in the Sporting Post, these articles have in the main, not been published by the Sporting Post.

It just so happens that those articles have been in my defence and/or raised questions about dubious behaviour of certain individuals, impugning my integrity. I hope that this is not indicative of the racing press and media having been captured. For the record I am, and always have been willing to be contacted by the Racing Press for my comments.

Neither my father nor I participated in the fracas that occurred at Hollywoodbets Greyville, save for us talking to the owners of the horse and those people associated with them. My father and I left the racecourse well before the abandonment of the race meeting.

The Hollywoodbets Greyville Saturday ‘demonstration’ is discussed by various stakeholders (Pic – Supplied)

Whilst we do not condone the behaviour of those persons who eventually prevented the race meeting from proceeding, it is necessary to remember that those punters’ main concern was that due to the scratching of Main Defender all their exotic bets would now be placed on the new favourite in that race.

This was unacceptable to them as they had not in any way chosen to gamble on that new favourite. This was their gripe. My father suggested to the powers that be, in order to pacify the situation, that the entire field of the race should count towards the exotics. This was refused.

Unfortunately, my family and I have been branded as, “cheats and thieves” by various persons in the industry.

For the record, Main Defender is and always has been an extremely fractious and nervous horse.

Prior to him joining our stable he was scratched from a race at Hollywoodbets Scottsville as he would not enter the starting gates. On Saturday, upon his arrival at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse, Main Defender was sweating profusely when he exited the float as he does not enjoy being in confined spaces.

Subsequently he was extremely stressed by being detained by the NHA in a confined, and humid space, whilst they prodded and took blood again and again.

“Main Defender” ended up cutting himself on his leg and bumping his head due to the strenuous treatment he received on a hot and humid day and his confinement.

At no time has he and/or ANY of my other horses ever received any bicarbonate of soda, nor have they ever been “milkshaked”.

It is worrying that when one of my horses tested over the limit, that we are branded “dope artists” and “undesirable” for the industry, but the very next day, when another trainer has two horses test over the limit for TCO2, no such accusations are made against him and it appears to be accepted that the same process as the following day is incorrect.

Drug testing

Surely it is obvious that the testing process is severely flawed and needs to be desperately and urgently re-looked at. People’s reputations and livelihoods are depending on it.

In order for the readers to fully understand what behaviour we have been subjected to recently, I will summarise them:

  1. In July 2023, 3 of my horses were scratched on the Thursday morning before the race meeting, even though an inspection by NHA officials were conducted at my yard three days previously. The NHA to this day have failed to provide any satisfactory reason for the scratchings of these horses. A few weeks later the NHA made amendments to the rules in order to justify their actions.
  2. On Summer Cup day 2023 (25 November 2023), all of my runners for the day were scratched after the running of the first race. The NHA to date have still not provided any reasonable explanation for this and have zero evidence of any wrongdoing on my behalf to justify the scratchings.
  3. For the past five months prior to every race meeting, the NHA have placed two to three “observers” at my stables from early in the morning until at least 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
  4. My horses have been followed on race days, from the time they leave the stables until they arrive at the racecourse.
  5. More of my horses have been tested for TCO2 than any other trainer’s horses.
  6. My mother has been man handled and physically abused by an employee of the NHA and to date the NHA have not even opened an investigation into this matter.
  7. My grooms and assistant have been publicly humiliated and bodily searched at the saddling enclosure on a race day in public and NHA officials have video recorded us saddling our horses.
  8. The attorney for the NHA has lied to my attorney including denying the existence of agreements between us and the NHA. Even after they were provided with a transcript of the proceedings proving that they had lied, they still have not apologised.
  9. The NHA attorneys have also failed to provide information which we are entitled to that we have requested from them, without providing any reason therefor.
  10. They have also made unsubstantiated allegations about members of my legal team, and when requested in writing to provide proof thereof and further information they have failed and/or refused to do so.
  11. On Saturday, despite my request thereof I was banned from taking photographs or videoing the proceedings in the testing area. We were also refused access to the document regarding the third test results.

I leave it up to the court of public opinion as to whether the above behaviour is reasonable/acceptable or not.

But I am advised that never in the history of horse racing in South Africa has any trainer been subjected to that kind of treatment.

As can been seen from our statistics I am a successful horse trainer. However, this is not due to any doping or unlawful activity but rather due solely to mine and my father’s one hundred precent dedication to our horses and by us paying 100% attention to finer detail.

As well as all credit must go to our team at the yard, especially the grooms who love and take special care of their horses.

As well as our sponsors/owners/supporters. My family and myself live for horseracing and for our horses 24/7 – 365 days. It is our passion and our way of life. This has, however, unfortunately caused great jealousy amongst some trainers, owners, and punters in the industry.

I hope that this clarifies matters to some extent. I state categorically that neither my father nor I participated nor encouraged any demonstration on Saturday. In fact, we left the course early in order to disassociate ourselves from the situation.

  • Media statement by Tony Peter on Monday 6 May 2024.

EdWe note Mr Peter’s comments and thank him for issuing the statement. We can confirm that we did not endeavour to make telephonic contact with him, and in fact have only ever spoken to Paul Peter, who has always been most approachable over the years.

It is worth noting that the environment in the parade ring on Saturday during the upheaval was not conducive to interviews, although we did attempt to speak to one of the group, whom we believed to be a connection. He declined us. A response was received on request independently from Suzette Viljoen and Garth Puller, who were both some way from the crowd, and thus able to speak without interference. 

As regards Mr Peter’s assertion that  we  have generally declined to have articles or comments in his favour being published, we would like to point out that we have a policy that frames what is permissible for publication. That policy is definitely not based on choosing sides, but focusses rather on determining facts and ultimately on the responsibility of publishing accurate information. The Sporting Post has in fact published numerous articles, letters and comments from various sources – so much so that we have even been labelled, at times, as ‘favouring the Peter narrative’. Such are individual perceptions, and we respect the fact that everybody is entitled to their opinion. But these polar opposite views are sufficient endorsement that we do hold a neutral position in this, and all other matters, and make a conscious effort to provide our readers with the best of balanced news.

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