Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

In response to jockey Muzi Yeni’s suggestion the National Horseracing Authority (NHA)applies its rules selectively, CEO Vee Moodley has stated emphatically there is “no discriminationin any cases” they bring.

Yeni posted on Facebook on August 2 that the NHA did not suspend his championship rival Lyle Hewitson for 14 days untilthe season was over affected his chances of winning the title for the first time. Yeni said he was in a career “where favour is done for one and others are not privileged to be treated equally”.

“Where is the minister of sport when we face injustice every day”?

Moodley told Business Day: “To suggest there is any discrimination in our decisions is totally wrong.”

In Yeni’s defence, it appears ludicrous that it took three-anda-half months to finalise Hewitson’s suspension and this could have resulted in an even closer finish to the title race. In the end, Hewitson rode four more winners than Yeni. In countries such as France and the UK, jockeys who do not appeal are suspended immediately.

If a jockey misses the Arc or Derby, it is just too bad.

Moodley said the authority “will be looking at tightening our rules to bring them in line with international standards”.

Moodley ’s approach will be welcomed by everyone with racing’s best interests at heart, as many NHA top brass have simply followed rules in the past that have existed for years as if they were cast in stone.

Arnold Hyde, NHA racing control executive,said that the authority’s rules“differ from other countries”.

“If a jockey is not prepared to sign an admission of guilt we go to an inquiry and then there is also the right of appeal. That full procedure can take some time.We need to get an appeal board together, and sometimes that is very tough.”

Hewitson’s case arose from an incident in a race at Fairview on April 12.

At a time when racing has been under the spotlight, the case has resulted on more than 40 posts on the Sporting Post website.

One read: “If matters are dealt with consistently and efficiently, there will not be any criticism or comment. The NHA really need to get up from their deep slumber.”

To add fuel to the fire, the NHA announced they would be holding an inquiry into comments made by Yeni in a TV interview after the fourth race at Hollywoodbets Greyville on July 31, the final day of the 2018-19 season.

Yeni had said that the NHA had “prolonged it [Hewitson’s suspension] until the end of the season and I thought that was very unfair to me”.

The response on social media was predictable.

“The inquiry into Muzi’s comments has no merit at all and is wasteful expenditure. We cannot stop freedom of speech — Muzi was asked a question and he answered it as he saw fit,” one commentator wrote.

Another posted: “For the NHA to hold an inquiry about Muzi expressing his honest views is a witch-hunt that would make McCarthy proud.”

“Change the rules and we will see a change of heart and not ridiculous decisions like opening an inquiry into the frank and truthful comments of a jockey,” another posted.

There is a chance here for Moodley to halt this criticism by announcing — as is the case with race reviews after a race — that no further action will be taken regarding Yeni’s interview.

There is good — and bad — news for fans of have-saddle-will-travel Yeni. At the Vaal recently, the 32-year-old told this writer that he would again be “giving the title a full go next season, but then may consider a move overseas”.