Jockeys banned after being seen with bookmaker on boat
Two South African jockeys have been suspended from riding for three months by the Mauritius Turf Club after they were photographed socialising with a bookmaker on a boat trip.
Brandon Lerena, cousin of former South African champion jockey Gavin Lerena, and Raymond Danielson were caught up in controversy after pictures and a video emerged on social media of them on a boat with a man they knew simply as "Ashley".
Both men claimed they did not know the man was a licensed bookmaker, and reported at their inquiry he told them he was a fashion consultant from Fashion TV. But officials found them guilty and suspended each from riding in races for three months under MTC Rule 11(d).
The punishment may seem excessive to British racing fans who are used to seeing many of the top jockeys being sponsored by – and even appearing in adverts for – bookmakers, but in Mauritius such activity is not permitted.
In Mauritius section (k) of the expatriate's jockey's licence states: "No jockey is permitted to contact, deal or otherwise associate or be in any way connected with any bookmaker, bookmaker's clerk, betting agent or anyone connected thereto."
Another jockey Muzi Yeni was also on the boat but could not attend the inquiry as he was engaged with the Mauritian police in relation to screenshots – also circulated on social media – of a WhatsApp conversation involving an account under his name.
Yeni, who had been investigated and cleared by the MTC over the WhatsApp screenshots, maintained it was a fake WhatsApp profile and had voluntarily submitted his phone to the MTC for inspection – after which they decided to take no further action.
There is only one racecourse on the island of Mauritius, the historic Champ de Mars, which is the home of the Mauritius Turf Club in the capital Port Louis. The course is best known for hosting an international jockeys' weekend in December.