Racing’s troubles are a boon for the legal profession
With the Phumelela and Gold Circle sagas, there seems to be more litigation taking place than turf events
Secretaries at law firms are likely to get an instruction on Monday morning: if anyone phones and mentions “horse racing”, say yes, we’ll take your case.
There have been more legal headlines than talk of horses for the sport in the past year and it has resulted in lawyers laughing all the way to the bank.
The litigation between Phumelela Gaming & Leisure — now in business rescue — appears to have been going on as long as the popular TV soapie Generations.
Then, last week, there was further courtroom drama when investor and racehorse owner Nick Jonsson went to the high court in Pietermaritzburg in an attempt to delay a virtual special Gold Circle meeting.
As Tania Broughton reported in Business Day on Wednesday, the purpose of this virtual meeting was to decide if members agreed to use R230m from the sale of Clairwood racecourse in 2012 to prop up its funding.
Jonsson applied to have the meeting postponed as he felt it was not the appropriate platform for debating and voting on whether the R230m should be released and placed under the control of the Gold Circle board. The high court in Pietermaritzburg dismissed Jonsson’s application with costs.
Jonsson and members supporting him needed to get 75% of the vote to prevent Gold Circle from using the funds. They got 71%, which was a victory for the board.
Then an article on the Turftalk website stated that Jonsson had agreed with Gold Circle that an initial drawdown of R70m would be permitted to repay a short-term loan and fund Gold Circle operating requirements until mid-October. One could be forgiven for saying Jonsson swam against the tide and then with it.
The announcement from Gold Circle that it had agreed an unsecured loan of R40m from Hollywoodbets suggests it had a plan in place if the vote had gone against it.
Michel Nairac, CEO of Gold Circle, issued a media release saying: “It would have been a tragedy for all the stakeholders if racing had to stop when the company went into business rescue. I am grateful to Hollywoodbets that racing will continue uninterrupted until the next special meeting can be convened.”
Basil Thomas, spokesperson for Hollywood Sports Book Group, said: “Hollywood is averse to racing politics. We are not picking a side and we have no desire to be caught in the middle. We have one agenda — that is to apply our resources, financial and human, to supporting Gold Circle in its quest to return to profitability.”
Some involved in racing — including trainers — have hailed Hollywoodbets as the sport’s saviour, but those who have followed the seemingly endless Phumelela-KZN bookmakers saga will find it somewhat ironic.
Trainer St John Gray, who has already bettered last season’s total of 37 winners, has a good chance of increasing his tally when he saddles a number of runners at Turffontein on Monday.
Gray has a particularly strong hand in the final event on the card in which he sends out four runners. A 1-2-3 finish for the stable is a distinct possibility.
Stately Home, a daughter of Silvano, could be the pick of the quartet as Lyle Hewitson has opted to ride the three-year-old in preference to stablemate Dance Class. The champion jockey won on both horses in their most recent appearances.
Sammi Moosa gives Gray strong backup, because the gelding is rarely out of the money and should go well in the hands of leading apprentice Luke Ferraris.
Another Gray inmate, Putins Promise, has a chance of upsetting the likely favourite, Bergerac, in the sixth race. Sean Tarry trains the latter and there is little between the duo, judging by their clash at the Vaal in February.
Two of the progeny of the ill-fated stallion Crusade could provide trainer Robbie Sage and jockey Muzi Yeni with a double at the city track. The filly Muleta has strong claims in the second race and stable companion Stunning seems to have Seehaan to beat in the first leg of the Pick Six.
1st Race: (2) Bravo One (4) Gold Lightning (5) Maputo (1) Able Surprise
2nd Race: (5) Muleta (2) Single Red Rose (1) Caerphilly (10) Sunset Beach
3rd Race: (5) Racing Man (2) Arran (9) Action Packed (11) Stormy Seas
4th Race: (1) Stunning (7) Seehaan (4) Samoa (8) Virocana
5th Race: (3) Battle Of Alesia (1) Lake Kinneret (2) Full Mast (10) Greek Fire
6th Race: (7) Putins Promise (1) Bergerac (4) Norland (9) Sekhmet
7th Race: (1) Var And Away (2) Expressfromtheus (3) Ballon D’Or (10) War Jewel
8th Race: (3) Flying High (4) Chariot Of Gold (5) Pilgrims Progress (10) Illuminate
9th Race: (2) Stately Home (11) Sammi Moosa (12) Dance Class (4) Rock You