Jockeys who met with bookmaker on boat finally allowed off island
South African jockey Brandon Lerena has spoken of his relief at being able to return home after he and fellow rider Raymond Danielson successfully had their three-month suspensions imposed by the Mauritius Turf Club overturned following a meeting with a bookmaker on a boat.
The pair, along with another jockey, Muzi Yeni, were forced to stay on the island while the police investigated their apartments and phone records to ascertain whether they had discussed bets with bookmaker Ashley Jankee last month.
While in Britain top jockeys are sponsored by – and even appear in adverts for – bookmakers, in Mauritius such activity is not permitted.
Lerena, cousin of former South African champion jockey Gavin Lerena, and 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".
The jockeys went on a fishing trip with Jankee, having been told he was in the fashion and music business.
Describing the trip to Tabnews, Lerena said: "He chose not to tell us who he was and we never got anything out of it. He made friends with us and at the end of the day he asked me for my number. I gave it to him but he started phoning me about five times that evening, I decided to stop all of this. Even at that point I didn’t think he was a bookmaker. I just thought he was a punter."
When pictures and a video emerged of the trio on the boat with Jankee, they were accused of discussing bets with the bookmaker, and suspended for three months.
The charges against Lerena and Danielson have been dropped – Yenzi took his case to the Supreme Court and has a hearing on August 16 – and Lerena added: "It was a horrible situation to be in because we knew we had done nothing wrong.
"The police had a full go at us. They searched our apartments, went through all our cell phones and even checked messages we had deleted. But they found nothing to indicate we had done anything wrong.
"The police had a job to do but they weren’t as difficult as the stewards. Even when we told them we did not know Jankee was a bookmaker they said they believed us, but we should have phoned them to check before we agreed to go with him."
Jankee, meanwhile, had been arrested and was being investigated for alleged illegal betting.