Just under a month ago, a time bomb started ticking for South Africa’s horseracing industry when one of its leading trainers, Anthony Peter, had his remaining runners scratched during Turffontein’s biggest race day of the year. Peter, who saddled the first race winner, is proclaiming his outrage in a very public manner by launching a R70m defamation action against the National Horseracing Authority which he claims defamed him. Complicating matters is the suspension of his runners was lifted the next day.Racing was part of my life for decades. I spent a fortune on my passion – creating SA’s first horseracing newspaper and feeding more bad horses than good- but I still ended up with more than 100 winners. You get the idea. I also fed mares, foals, and stallion owners for many of those years. I also unsuccessfully attempted to replicate Federico Tesio (google him) at a boutique breeding farm in the Midlands of KZN. For a good part of it, I also invested a lot of time, pro bono, as a director of the Racing Association in Gauteng and JSE-listed Phumelela (then in rude health). Reason: racing is a sport of princes and knaves. Unless shenanigans of knaves are rigorously policed, exposed and punished, the entire edifice upon which the industry is built – the studbook and the formbook underpinning it – turns into fiction. I am long gone from the industry and have never met the man, so I have no idea whether Anthony Peter is a prince or a knave. But what I do know is the action taken against him is unprecedented. Which, in horseracing, is saying something. So am fascinated to see how this defamation suit progresses. And progress it will, because the NHA is sure to defend with equal vigour, especially as rumours within the racing community are true – it has one Paul O’Sullivan in its corner. SA’s most famous forensic investigator responded to my email yesterday confirming it: “O’Sullivan Brosnan and Associates have been appointed by the NHA, who are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the sport of horseracing in Southern Africa. We have been appointed for the purpose of investigating certain alleged illicit activities and have already commenced investigations.” The man responsible for putting two SA Police Commissioners behind bars added: “Once criminals get a hold on any sport, the confidence is lost and with it the belief that the sport has integrity. This drives away those that want to play the game by the rules and makes a fertile ground for mafia like take-overs. It also destroys investor confidence, resulting in the ultimate collapse of the sport and all the paid employment that goes with it.“We are not authorised to discuss the merits of our investigations or the outflows from our findings. However, we already have the ‘inside track,’ so to speak, and will give those involved in hanky-panky that is clearly intended to make illicit profits a good run for their money. More than 20 years ago, I was called in to sort out similar challenges facing what was then known as The Jockey Club of Southern Africa. We got it right then, and we’re confident we’ll get it right this time.” Grab your popcorn.
Picture: Paul O’Sullivan (Picture: new24.com)
The NHA will not be bullied in court in the Tony Peter case.
The Peters have got top legal and horseracing mind Advocate Nigel Rily in their corner.
However, it has been revealed in a Biznews newsletter from Alec Hogg that The NHA have South Africa’s most famous forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan in their corner.
It is going to be a riveting case.
Hogg’s newsletter is published below.