Kenilworth faces solidarity march in protest against Markus Jooste
Racegoers at South Africa’s richest race meeting on Saturday will be treated to the extraordinary sight of officials of the National Horseracing Authority (the equivalent of the Jockey Club) marching in solidarity with trade unions over the Markus Jooste situation.
In a remarkable piece of diplomacy NHA chief executive Lyndon Barends has succeeded in persuading the Public Servants Association union that racing has suffered as much from Jooste’s financial irregularities as the PSA members’ pension fund which was partly invested in Jooste’s former company Steinhoff and whose share value has collapsed. He is hopeful that Cosatu, the other union involved, will accept the same argument.
Both had been planning a protest at tomorrow’s Sun Met meeting at Kenilworth but Barends has issued a statement saying: “The NHA confirms its empathy with all those who lost investments due to the Steinhoff-Markus Jooste scenario and, with the PSA and its allies, has agreed to stage a solidarity parade to empathise. The Sun Met will continue undisturbed as normal.”
To further take the heat out of the situation Barends has ordered that none of the Jooste horses will carry their owner’s distinctive emerald green, yellow stars, black sleeves and cap colours – these were carried by Douglas Macarthur when he led the field a merry dance in last year’s Derby.
Instead the runners owned by Jooste’s Mayfair Speculators racing company will carry what are known as club colours (blue with a black cap) which are normally reserved for horses whose trainers have forgotten to bring the correct colours to the course.
There were nine Mayfair horses declared for tomorrow but two have since been sold and will race in the colours of the new owners.
Barends, who explained to the unions that the NHA has no power to stop the Mayfair horses running, has also managed to persuade them that neither Mayfair nor Jooste will benefit from any prize money won because Mayfair is in hock to the banks and has made a legally-binding commitment that all earnings and sale proceeds will be used to reduce the debt.
Legal Eagle, favourite for the Met, carried Jooste’s colours when second in the last two years, but was bought last month by businessman Braam van Huyssteen for R3.2 million (£182,350) plus VAT and has since won the R1.5 million Queen’s Plate.
Jooste is not expected to attend tomorrow. He has kept a low profile since the scandal broke early last month and has not been racing in the interim.
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