Jockeys betting scandal ban raises questions for British racing
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A pair of South African jockeys received three month bans in Mauritius after being photographed on a boat trip with a bookmaker.
Brandon Lerena and Raymond Danielson both received bans after video footage emerged of their time aboard a luxury yacht with a man now known to be a licensed bookmaker.
The two men were seen on a boat trip with the man in question and claimed they didn’t know he was a bookmaker. At the following enquiry, both claimed they thought he was a fashion consultant.
Top jockeys in Britain are permitted to be sponsored by bookmakers and appear in their advertisements. Being in the company of a bookmaker in a similar fashion in Britain would likely not have led to any sort of punishment; but is this a flaw with our British system or does it demonstrate that the Mauritian authorities are a little draconian in their punishments?
"No jockey is permitted to contact, deal or otherwise associate or be in any way connected with any bookmaker, bookmaker's clerk, betting agent or anyone connected thereto," says the Mauritian law. But is it one that British and Irish Racing could learn from?
The island’s one racecourse annually plays host to an international jockeys' meeting and as a result, the governing body - the Mauritian Turf Club - is a small scale organisation. However, their choice to draw a clear line between those partaking in the sport of racing and those profiting from the gambling that is so inherently linked to racing seems like a wise one.
Comparatively, prominent Irish jump jockey Ruby Walsh works for bookmaker Paddy Power and has featured in adverts with Paddy himself.
Should there be more distance between bookmaker and sportsman? It’s a big question but in other sports, this would certainly be criticised.
Whether or not the Mauritian system is over-zealous or out-dated, the integrity of racing and the sport's relationship with bookmakers is paramount. For a sport so inherently linked with gambling, the connection has to be a clean and unquestionable one. Without wishing to throw aspersions on British and Irish racing - a simple 'check up' on the relationship may be worth while.