SA’s Jockeys in High Court on Saturday

THE matter between the Jockeys’ Association of South Africa (JASA) and the National Horseracing Authority (NHA), pertaining to travel restrictions on jockeys, will be heard by the High Court in Johannesburg on Saturday at 10am.

A number of South African racing personalities and commentators on social media have asked why this matter could not have been resolved amicably around a boardroom table, but the NHA and their representing lawyer Nick Roodt of Fasken Attorneys (photo), have never been shy of expensive litigation above constructive dialogue.

We have to wonder about the amount of money that lawsuits cost the NHA, and racing by implication, every year.

The purpose of JASA’s application is to ensure that all restrictions relating to the inter-provincial travels of jockeys in the South African horse racing industry are to be in compliance with the requirements as contained in Government Gazette number 44044 dated 29 December 2020 (“The Government Regulations”) relating to the holding of professional sporting events and business travel.

The NHA’s has restricted travel pertaining to Riders who are licenced under the NHA’s Rules and Constitution. Arnold Hyde of the NHA said: “That riders are able to ply their trade within the period of curfew is due to their Essential Service Permits, issued by the NHA in terms of powers delegated to us from various Government Departments.

JASA’s lawyers contend that: “Hyde completely ignored the contradictions between the December Regulations of the First Respondent (NHA) and those contained in the Government Regulations. Hyde made absolutely no attempt to address the attitude of the First Respondent which we respectfully submit is somewhat draconian in nature, nor did he attempt to explain why the First Respondent was taking such drastic and unnecessary action.

“Since end August 2020, and despite the free movement of travel of jockeys inter-provincially, not one jockey has tested positive for COVID-19.

“Furthermore, no groom and only one trainer have tested positive for COVID-19 during the same period. It would thus appear that the December Regulations by the First Respondent are effectively an overkill and akin to the First Respondent taking a hammer press to a very tiny acorn.

“It is further akin to the South African Cricket Board deciding that only cricket players based in a certain province could play for the Proteas in any test match against a foreign country, that was held in that province. Such restrictions are clearly illogical, unnecessary and ridiculous.

“Quite simply the December directives will cause huge financial losses to the jockeys and cause irredeemable harm, including the loss of stable retainers, good rides, income, championship points and future contracts. They will also cause substantial and irredeemable harm to the entire South African horse racing industry, and all of its stakeholders.

“Notwithstanding the above, there are two further challenges to the December Regulations, these are social justice and reasonableness, both of which are protected by the Constitution of this country. It is trite law, that all policies must comply with the equality clause of the Constitution and by implication the dictates of social justice.

“The (NHA) appears to ignore this enshrined principle of equality and fairness and is instead intent on only excluding and discriminating against the jockeys.”

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