South Africa: Jockey bans after major races are hardly a rarity in the aftermath of major races across the globe but a pair of winning riders at Turffontein’s recent high-profile card have surpassed themselves. Or maybe the stewards did.
There were two G1 events at the Johannesburg venue on May 1 – and, though neither result was amended, both winning jockeys have sustained 14-day bans for interference.
Muzi Yeni was banned from May 7-20 for his efforts on the winner Got The Greenlight in the hugely anticipated Premier’s Champions Challenge, where the four-year-old recorded his fifth G1 win against a field featuring the prolific Summer Pudding and Mike De Kock’s star three-year-old Triple Crown winner Malmoos.
Got The Greenlight scored by three-quarters of a length to claim the feature – but Yeni was in trouble for a manoeuvre after a couple of furlongs where he shortened up three other horses by shifting across to the rail. Among those affected was runner-up Second Base, who had to check on heels.
The stewards on the day considered that piece of interference wasn’t enough to materially affect the result, but given that other horses were bumped and steadied, Yeni was duly carpeted.
Fair enough. maybe. But this week, news emerged that Grant van Niekirk, who 35 minutes earlier had landed the G1 Computaform Sprint on 9-5 favourite Rio Querari, was also banned for a fortnight for his performance.
South Africa’s National Horseracing Authority said an inquiry was held on Sunday [May 9] at which the rider pleaded guilty to failing to ensure inference did not occur between the 250-metre and 100-metre points. It looked a tad harsh, but Van Niekirk waived his right of appeal and is out from May 13-26.
In the meantime, who said anything about winning at all costs?