THE National Horseracing Authority (NHA) confirmed on Thursday, 9 September that, in terms of its Disciplinary Code, a penalty of a final written warning has been imposed on Mr BE “Solly” Ngcobo, the Race Starter in Gauteng.
Ngcobo was charged with unsatisfactory work performance in that he failed to exercise proper care in the manner of discharge of his duties at the start of Race 4 at the Vaal on 26 August. This resulted in the horses being loaded in, and starting from, the incorrect barrier draw positions.
The Board was of the view that, whilst there were a number of factors which contributed to the incorrect draw positions going undetected it was the Starter who was ultimately responsible for ensuring that the horses were loaded into the correct starting stalls.
Mr Ngcobo pleaded guilty to the charge, which was accepted by the Board, who took cognizance of the nature and magnitude of the offence, in particular the impact on the racing and betting public, the owners and trainers of the horses in question, The National Horseracing Authority and its colour holders, and the general damage to the image of the industry both locally and abroad.
In mitigation however, the Board accepted that the Starter had taken responsibility, and demonstrated regret, for the incident. His clean record with regard to previous disciplinary matters of any nature was also taken into account. The Board was also of the view that this was an isolated incident which was unlikely to occur again.
The ten jockeys who lined up in the wrong starting gates were fined R10,000 each (R8,000 of which is suspended for two years), at a hearing held last Friday.
The race itself was declared null and void soon after it was completed.
Rule 61.5.16 states inter alia that “No rider shall take up a position at the start of a race other than that allotted“ or “take any undue advantage at the start”.
Rule 126.96.36.199 states inter alia that “Riders shall ride their horses into their correct stalls”.
Jockeys Stephen Swanepoel, Marco van Rensburg, Andrew Fortune, Marthinus Mienie, Gunter Wrogemann and Fanie Chambers all pleaded not guilty to the charge, but were found guilty by the Board. A plea of not guilty was entered on behalf of Jockeys Sherman Brown, Francois Naude and Felix Coetzee, but they were found guilty by the Board. Apprentice Nooresh Juglall pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea to that of guilty, which was accepted by the Board.