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Confusion reigns among the Mauritian racing fraternity after the City Council of Port Louis issued a notice last week Wednesday terminating the lease of the Mauritius Turf Club’s (MTCSL) use of the state-owned land on which the Champ de Mars racecourse is situated.

Turf Talk attempted to piece together the crisis through online translation software.  

The Mauritian Turf Club (MTCSL) put in a new license application to the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) two weeks ago.

The MTCSL then received the conditions attached to the new license.

These conditions were deemed unacceptable and were rejected following a meeting of the directors of the MTCSL.

Therefore the MTCSL were not able to organize the races and consequently the first day of racing scheduled for April 23 had to be cancelled.

Jean Michel Giraud, president of the Mauritius Turf Club said, “We have taken a quick look at the conditions imposed by the GRA (Gambling Regulatory Authority). We find them unacceptable. We are not going to accept. I am sad for the industry, racegoers, trainers and owners. We are dealing with people who want the MTC dead and as president I am not going to agree to be its gravedigger.”

The town hall of Port-Louis, which acted under the directive of the Ministry of Local Authorities, Disaster and Risk Management, later terminated MTCSL’s lease of the Champ de Mars racecourse which was supposed to be valid until 2028.

They did this soon after the GRA had said they would not change the conditions of the aforementioned license.

They justified their unilateral decision by explaining that the MTCSL could not organise the races since it did not have a “Horse Racing Organiser” license.

A court case is currently in progress challenging the legality of the decision to revoke the lease.

An opinion column this week said, “Our colleague Ally Mohedeen reminds us that the government has been pushing towards the nationalisation of horse racing since the installation of the Lepep government in 2014. This has resulted in amendments to the Gambling Regulatory Authority Act, whose authority is populated by servants of the MSM (Militant Socialist Movement). The fatal blow was dealt in 2021 when almost all decision-making powers in terms of “control and regulation” were transferred to the new Horse Racing Division (HRD) of the GRA. Section 15(f) of the GRA Act reads as follows: HRD is “responsible for horse race planning, including the preparation and publication of the horse race calendar, fixtures lists, nominations and racecards”.

Picture: Champ De Mars race course, where Mauritians enjoy their favourite pastime (MTC).