Leading work rider Semela hit with lifetime ban
Filly was not run to the best of her ability at Vaal in February, inquiry board finds
The National Horseracing Authority has given one of the country’s leading work riders, Francis Semela, a life ban following an inquiry held at its headquarters in Johannesburg.
Semela was found guilty of preventing the filly Kindavar from winning or being placed in a race at the Vaal on February 28. He did not allow her to run to the best of her ability or on merit. Semela, who was found guilty of a similar offence in 2017, pleaded guilty to the charge but has the right of appeal.
The inquiry board said it viewed the offence “in a serious light and could not condone a ride of such a nature” and imposed a lifetime ban.
Semela elected not to divulge any reasons explaining his ride other than his poor judgment.
The case has caused considerable debate on social media, with racing newspaper the Sporting Post receiving more than 20 posts. Some agree with the punishment meted out by the authority and others do not. Here are a few of the comments:
• “To take away the rider’s privileges forever and prevent him from earning a living, the commission of inquiry must have felt he rode by design and had to be cheating.”
• “The ban will be stressful for the Work Rider — a fine would have been more suitable. Another commission of inquiry should be opened to find out the truth behind the ride.”
• “More bans must follow. When I wager a bet on a horse and it’s clear that a certain jockey didn’t give it a chance of winning — it’s so frustrating.”
• “There are lots of people in the political arena waiting for this to happen. I mean to use to their advantage and it’s sad horseracing has fallen for the trap.”
• “The authorities have now taken a tough stand on this behaviour — well done, guys. Do not give in at the appeal, stand by your decision and be consistent going forward.”
A work riders event launches Tuesday’s eight-race programme at the Vaal and this 1,200m sprint looks a match between Sam Mosia on Varquera and Goodman Dadamasi on Desert Kitten. Mosia was in the saddle when Varquera made a promising debut at the track in January, and Brian Wiid’s filly might edge out Desert Kitten, who also finished third on her first outing.
Trainer Paul Peter is enjoying a successful season — he is in seventh place in the national log — and is sure to fancy his chances of winning Tuesday’s seventh race in which he saddles three runners.
With Gavin Lerena booked for Defy Gravity, this four-year-old is likely to be the stable elect, but it might be worth chancing a few rand each way on stablemate Corrido. Corrido has a 6kg turnaround with Seventh Of June compared to their meeting at Turffontein in January, and the gelding has a favourable draw in Tuesday’s 1,800m contest.
Mike de Kock sends out the Aussie-bred gelding Hakeem, and the import might start favourite despite being worse off at the weights this time with Defy Gravity.
In the final race on the card, Roy Magner’s filly Bullsade takes a huge drop in class and can notch her fourth win by beating Kentucky Blue, who is reunited with Lerena.
1st Race: (12) Varquera (8) Daring Damsel (11) Queen Of The Roses (2) Sparkling Gold
2nd Race: (11) Bold Matador (2) Setablaze (13) God Of Thunder (1) Potjie
3rd Race: (10) Hit For Six (1) Maroon Bells (11) Palace Green (3) Verdi
4th Race: (10) Evening Bell (1) Oh So Cold (2) Jungle Jane (6) Our Biscuit
5th Race: (1) D’Arrivee (5) Dhabyaan (3) Ragoon (2) Nordic Rebel
6th Race: (5) Emily Hobhouse (1) Pilgrim’s Progress (2) Star Halo (4) Glamorous Scandal
7th Race: (9) Corrido (2) Defy Gravity (1) Hakeem (4) Seventh Of June
8th Race: (1) Bullsade (8) Kentucky Blue (3) Believe Me (5) Seattle Tango