Avatar photo

By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

Local stipes get tough on wayward jockeys

Four-month ‘holiday’ for Khathi; Gates and Yeni pay price for Mamaquera incident.

Those Hong Kong stipes don’t mess about! It’s a sentiment we often hear in these parts when racing officials in the Chinese enclave crack down on wrongdoing in the game.

The latest example was British expat jockey Harry Bentley who was suspended from riding for two months and fined HK$300,000 (about R700,000) by the Hong Kong Jockey Club for “inappropriate communication” for payment with individuals about horses he was riding – on a phone they supplied him.

In South Africa, this drew comments about local stipes being lenient by comparison, with at least one observer referring to routine “seven-day suspension” slap on the wrist punishments for riding misdemeanours – rule infractions that could see punters out of pocket.

The timing of that comment turned out to be a tad mistimed.

120-day suspension

Within days, SA’s National Horseracing Authority had issued a press release saying it had suspended jockey Robert Khathi from riding in races for 120 days. A four-month ban must be one of the harshest sentences handed down by the NHA in a while.

Khathi’s rap related to his efforts aboard the horse Cape Eagle in Race 6 at Hollywoodbets Greyville on 15 October. At a hearing in Durban last week, he was accused of failing to “take all reasonable Measures throughout the race to ensure that this gelding was given a full opportunity to win or obtain the best possible placing”.

Khathi pleaded not guilty, but got short shrift, It was found that he “failed to ride Cape Eagle out with sufficient vigour and determination which in the opinion of the stewards had a bearing on the result of the race”.

Mamaquera incident

The guilty party has the right to appeal the finding and the sentence – as has his colleague Jason Gates, who copped a relatively hefty 21-day suspension this week.

As the rider of Rose Tinted at Turffontein on 2 November, Gates was charged with failing “to ensure he did not cause substantial interference” to the runner Mamaquera in the closing stages of Race 8.

Rose Tinted shifted in and clipped heels with Mamaquera, who was severely checked, stumbled and dislodged jockey Phila Mxoli.

Gates pleaded guilty.

A third NHA release this week concerned the same incident at Turffontein. Title-chasing Muzi Yeni was in the dock for also causing interference to Mamaquera and the unfortunate Mxoli.

His mount Striking Angel shifted out and the stewards decided that Yeni “was a contributing source to the substantial interference in the incident”.

He got the “seven-day ban” our sore punter above was referring to.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Bentley has spoken out days after his improper conduct verdict in Hong Kong, saying his behaviour was “in no way related to giving tips, betting, wagering, race-fixing or accepting payment”.

This seems to flatly contradict what he actually pleaded guilty to and is a bit reminiscent of the antics of ANC cabinet ministers. Or perhaps even Tom Curry’s insistence that everyone speaks English on a rugby field.

Read more on these topics

horse racing news

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits