Picture: 123RF/LUKAS GOJDA
Picture: 123RF/LUKAS GOJDA

The case of SA jockey JP van der Merwe — hit with a 12-month ban in Singapore last week — will not be taken up by the National Horseracing Authority (NHA) in this country.  

After the ban handed down by the Singapore stipendiary board, there was speculation in social media that the SA racing authorities might act the same way as the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) did regarding a four-month Dubai ban for jockey Pat Cosgrave in 2014. The BHA failed to uphold the ban.

Consequently, Business Day contacted NHA CEO Vee Moodley to find out if they might get involved in the case.

Moodley was quick to respond and said: “There is no involvement from the NHA at this juncture. Only if and when Mr Van der Merwe returns to SA, he will have to produce a clearance certificate.”

Arnold Hyde, racing control executive of the NHA, confirmed this was correct and said: “I have received no correspondence from Singapore at this juncture.”

Van Der Merwe, in his second season in Singapore, was charged regarding his riding of his mount, Fast And Fearless, in the seventh race at Kranji racecourse on September 4.

The charge sheet stated that “from the 400m mark to the 150m mark, he failed to ride his mount with sufficient vigour and determination when at all times it was reasonable and permissible for him to do so”.

The statement added that the jockey’s record and personal circumstances had been taken into account and that he has the right of appeal.

This is not the first lengthy ban handed out by chief stipendiary steward John Davidson. Two years ago he suspended jockey Joseph See for 24 months and also fined the jockey S$50,000.

In an interview with the Sporting Post, legal and racing guru, Robert Bloomberg, said: “In my professional opinion, this is a gross and alarming miscarriage of justice.”

He added he had been in touch with Van der Merwe who is naturally distraught and who will be lodging an appeal. “If he happens to get exonerated, are they going to compensate him for the period he was barred from riding. I think not.”

Van der Merwe’s wife, Abbi Smith, daughter of champion Eastern Cape trainer Gavin Smith, said “many owners and trainers have called us and have pledged to stand and support us. It is a big help in a foreign country where we do not have the support of our family.”

While MK’s Pride won the topliner at Turffontein on Saturday and now heads for the grade 2 Spring Challenge in three weeks’ time, it was jockey Lyle Hewitson and trainer Sean Tarry who dominated the meeting with a four-timer.

The most impressive winner was the three-year-old filly Under Your Spell who put her elder rivals to the sword in the seventh race.

Hewitson has encountered problems leaving for Japan because of the pandemic, but still expects to leave at the end of the month to take up a three-month contract.

Under Your Spell is a daughter of Capetown Noir and he is a son of Akinfeet whose daughter, three-year-old filly Dancetildaylight, caught the eye with an impressive win at Durbanville. The daughter of Gimmethegreenlight may have been well bought at R400,000.

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