The processes pertaining to jockey suspensions came under scrutiny last week at the conclusion of the South African Jockeys championship and there was criticism from various quarters about a rider’s ability to use these processes to delay a pending suspension.
However, a closer look at our National Horseracing Authority’s system compared to others around the world shows it is like comparing apples to pears and, furthermore, it is not unusual in other parts of the world for cases pertaining to riding fouls to be dragged out for a long time.
Anthony Delpech revealed over the weekend a case of his in Hong Kong involving a serious charge was dragged out for three months.
There has been criticism out here for inconsistencies in the time it takes for an appeal board to sit from case to case.
However, Delpech said when he was riding in Hong Kong the date on which an appeal board sat was dependent on the availability of both representative lawyers. i.e. it was subject to the same delays which happen in South Africa and there was no consistency from case to case.
It should also be pointed out Lyle Hewitson initially pleaded guilty to the charge of a contravention of Rule 62.2.3 in April.
This arose on 12 April 2019 at Fairview Racecourse, he failed to ride Believethisbeauty out to the end of Race 8, thereby prejudicing his chances of obtaining 3rd position.
However, he appealed the severity of the 14 day sentence and it is this process which did not reach its conclusion before the end of the season.
Likewise, S’Manga Khumalo’s pending 60 day suspension in 2014 stretched even beyond the appeal board process when he took it to the high court.
In Hong Kong the initial inquiry is held on the same day as the race, which speeds the process up.
Over here it is usually only done the following week, but it must be remembered that in Hong Kong all jockeys not only live in Hong Kong but also live in the same apartment block compared to here where a number of them fly in from other cities.
In South Africa after an inquiry the jockey may opt for the Inquiry transcript to be considered by the Inquiry Review Board, that meets from “time to time”.
In Britain the “Disciplinary Panel” sits regularly. It holds inquiries under the Rules of Racing and, where appropriate, imposes penalties where breaches of the Rules have been committed and hears appeals from Stewards’ decisions, A number of cases are done in one sitting. However, it should be seen in the light of there being numerous racemeetings every day in Britain, meaning a number of misdemeanours will happen every week.
In South Africa, with just one or two meetings per day, there could be a week where there are no misdemeanours at all, so it would therefore not be economically viable to have such a panel sitting at regular intervals.
Jockeys are entitled to use the system to their advantage and it would seem the ability to delay pending suspensions in South Africa will continue to be part of the riding playing field.
By David Thiselton