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Mauritius Turf Club, a 210 year-old organisation, has been brought to its knees.


The members of the Mauritius Turf Club (MTC) chose unanimously through their Extraordinary General Assembly held on Friday March 3, 2023, not to organize horse racing this season.

This is the first time this will happen in the 210 year existence of the Mauritius Turf Club, but they have not closed down and are hoping for better days ahead.

There has been a push towards the nationalisation of horse racing on the island since the installation of the Lepep government in 2014 

The Parry Report, a Commission of Inquiry on Horse Racing in Mauritius done in 2015, concluded with the following couple of recommendations among many others:

  • the current regulatory and governance functions of the MTC be removed and, instead, become the responsibility of a new independent Sports’ Governing Body called “The Mauritius Horseracing Authority‟ (MHA);
  • the Mauritius Turf Club should retain responsibility for Race Planning and Race-day operations;

However, when in 2021 the government announced an amendment to the GRA (Gambling Regulatory Authority), claiming an implementation of the Parry report, the impact on the Mauritius Turf Club was far more profound.

Chairman Jean Michel Giraud said at the time, “We are going to face a real nationalization of races through the Horse Racing Division (HRD) and the GRA, which will not only affect betting, but also the organization of races. This Bill aims to remove the last remaining prerogatives of the MTCSL (MTC Sports and Leisure Limited). After having set up a Board Of Appeal, it will now appoint the Stipes, decide which races will be on the cards, how many race days there will be and who will be allowed to race or not. In addition, it will decide about the licenses of trainers, jockeys and who will be eligible to be an owner. In a nutshell, they will have full control of the races. The MTCSL will only be left with the ambulance service, horse sampling and lawn maintenance! The regulator wants to become the organizer. This doesn’t exist anywhere in the world!”.

Then last year MTCSL put in a new license application to the GRA.

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, 2022, had to be cancelled.

Then what happened was the City Council of Port Louis issued a notice 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, a lease 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.

The legality of the decision was challenged.

The People’s Turf PLC (PTP) then applied for the use of the Champ De Mars racecourse.

To cut a long story short both MTCSL and PTP ended up organising race meetings during the 2022 season, usually on alternate weekends.

However, in the latest round of troubles to hit the island’s horseracing fraternity MTCSL was informed by the HRD in a letter dated January 4 that its horse import license had been revoked.

They were advised it might be a temporary measure upon some legalities being investigated, but the Le Mauricien summed it up by saying, “More than ever the economic strangulation but also the prevention of the MTCSL from existing and functioning continues inexorably…”  

The following report from in February underlines how untenable the situation has become for the MTCSL:

Massive blow for the Mauritius Turf Club Sports & Leisure Ltd (MTCSL). The Côte d’Or International Racecourse and Entertainment Complex Ltd (COIREC) imposes new “non-negotiable” lease conditions for the use of the Champ de Mars. For the Club, these are “abusive” conditions. Several spaces have been taken away from it, in particular the ‘trotting track’ and its car park, access to the Duke Of York Club avenue, the bleachers and the stables which are housed there. Will they or won’t they sign the lease? A decision will be made in the coming days.
The MTCSL does not benefit from the same lease conditions as in 2022 for the use of the racetrack. Last season, the two organizers, the MTCSL and People’s Turf PLC (PTP) took care of the maintenance of the track alternately, from now on, this task has been entrusted exclusively to the PTP.

The new lease proposed to the MTCSL no longer covers the entire Champ de Mars racecourse, but only the grass track and the sand track. The other parts of the Champ de Mars, in particular the ‘trotting track’ and its car park, the access to the Avenue Duke of York Club (except to be used as an Emergency Exit), the bleachers and the stables which are housed there, are excluded. . In addition, the MTCSL will no longer have the right to install its false rails or any structures whatsoever on the track or elsewhere.

The organization finds it “unacceptable” that the rent remains unchanged (Rs 250,000 per shopping day) when it no longer has several spaces. It will have to take charge of 50% of the maintenance of the track, according to a ‘Cost-sharing Agreement’ to be concluded with the PTP for the off-season period and the 2023 season.

According to an executive, the MTCSL alone financed the maintenance of the track from December 2021 to June 2022 and neither PTP nor COIREC considered that the MTCSL should be reimbursed. Regarding safety and insurance, the MTCSL must take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the public, the jockeys and the horses. COIREC excludes all liability in the event of an incident or accident. In addition, the MTCSL must pay compensation in the event of a lawsuit against COIREC. They must subscribe to a ‘Public Liability Insurance’ which therefore covers the entire Champ de Mars. This even if the racetrack is no longer covered by the lease.

A member of the MTCSL did not mince his words against COIREC. “We are putting everything on our backs, because we did not respect the prescribed deadline to make our request for renewal of the lease? It’s bullshit. Everything has been orchestrated and changes have been made so that the PTP can freely enjoy these spaces. They were forced to come up with new terms to fit the reality of People’s Turf PLC. Last year, PTP did not give us access to the interior of the Champ de Mars and blocked the parking lot, even though our contract mentioned these spaces. We had to go to court. All this is done to make PTP legal,” he laments.

In addition, the MTCSL issued a statement on Monday to its employees to update them on the situation. “The future of the MTCSL and its jobs is obviously very uncertain at this stage and we understand the anguish of our employees and the teams still housed with us, both in Port-Louis and Floréal”, said a press release.
MTCSL must sign the lease with COIREC before it can complete its organizer license application. In a letter sent to the Horse Racing Division (HRD) and the Gambling Regulatory Authority) on Monday, the MTCSL is seeking information on the number of days for the 2023 season. They believe this information is essential to any assessment of the capacity of MTCSL to sign the COIREC lease.
It seems completely unreasonable to us to ask us to sign a lease without knowing the number of days allocated to the MTCSL, because on this depends the viability of its operations”, she points out in the press release.

MTCSL has also written to the CEO of PTP. Khulwant Kumar Ubheeram, on Saturday to ask him for his proposal for a ‘Cost-sharing Agreement’, for the maintenance of the track, because the MTCSL is not able to assess the real impact of the lease on its capacity to operate and its finances. This request was reiterated on Monday. The MTCSL and MTC Boards will meet this week to decide how to proceed, once they have heard the responses from PTP and the GRA/HRD.

COIREC said, “We do not favor PTP.”

The MTCSL cannot come and complain and talk about favouritism. We do not favor PTP, but it is in good standing and has met the deadline for renewing its lease, unlike MTCSL. It is up to the latter to decide whether or not to sign the lease for the use of the Champ de Mars and to respect the clauses which are attached”, declares an influential member of the COIREC Board.

The MTCSL’s decision to continue organising the races hinged on the “cost sharing agreement” between them and the PTP. They waited a long time to receive the document and the PTP then requested a non-disclosure agreement, which would prevent it from disclosing the amount of this ‘Cost Sharing Agreement’. 

On Friday, the news broke that MTCSL had decided not to organise the races this year.

A press release stated:

“The news has just broken.

MTC President Gavin Glover stated following the decision. “When I woke up this morning, I was aware of the distress that will be upon all Mauritian turfists today and I am not forgetting all the stakeholders who have been to the Turf Club in recent years.” I am, today, before you because the decision that we had to make today is dramatic. The consequences will obviously be important for everyone, but I finished my speech today by saying that 2023 is a nightmare and that when we wake up in 2024, we hope it will be a better year. That means what it means. The MTC is not dead. The MTC will survive and hope for better days. This won’t happen in 2023, but let’s wait and see. We have employees that will suffer the consequences of what will happen. We will support the employees during these difficult times and we will not let them down. The aim of the MTC is not only to organize race days, but also to ensure that equestrian sport progresses in Mauritius. I didn’t become the President of the Turf Club to close the MTCSL. We were here to run and to keep running, but we can’t run under the current conditions. The Club will be open to members on race day. The MTC Annual General Meeting will be held in mid-April with audited accounts to 31 December 2022. This Assembly will have to decide on the direction of the MTC in view of the figures audited as of December 31, 2022. “