Jooste scandal forces leading South African trainer Charles Laird to retire
Leading South African trainer Charles Laird has decided to retire, primarily because of the Markus Jooste financial scandal.
Laird, 60, told tabonline.co.za: “About 90 per cent of my stable was owned by Markus Jooste and since December they have been selling off anything worth racing, so it was time to call it a day.”
A member of the famous South African Laird racing dynasty – his grandfather Alec Laird rode Nobleman to win the Durban July in 1911 and his uncle Syd trained seven winners of the country’s greatest race – Laird started training in 1995 after a spell as a handicapper.
He trained a string of Group 1 winners, including National Emblem, Nhlavini, Seventh Rock and Hunting Tower, with whom he won the 2007 Durban July.
He said: “That was probably the greatest moment. I always wanted to win the July.”
As a teenager he was more interested in cricket and was offered a contract with Somerset. However, his father insisted he stay in South Africa, where he played provincial cricket, but knee problems – he had six operations – led to him switching to racing.
Jooste’s Just Sensual, winner of the 2016 Cape Fillies Guineas for Joey Ramsden, has been sold to a Japanese-Australian syndicate and has gone into quarantine in Cape Town to be exported via Mauritius to Australia.
Absa Bank’s High Court action against Jooste’s racing company Mayfair Speculators is now scheduled to be heard in Cape Town on April 30.
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