Horse racing: Mauritius Turf Club loses Champ de Mars

In Port Louis, the Champ-de-Mars racecourse has been withdrawn from the Mauritius Turf Club (MTC), a club that is 210 years old. Reason: He did not get regulatory approval to organize races piloted by a close friend of the prime minister.

Port Louis City Hall seems to have put the final nail in the coffin Mauritius Turf Club (MTC), the historical organizer of horse racing in Mauritius. On Wednesday, the city secretary informed the respected institution, founded in 1812, which makes it the oldest club in the southern hemisphere and the second oldest club in the world, that it will cease its full use of the Champ de Mars with immediate effect. the hippodrome, which had been leased to him all these years.

The municipality justifies this decision by saying that Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) did not issue licenses to MTS to organize races. The mayor’s office also points to the state’s shortfall in taxes and people who make a living from races that have not been held since last Saturday. The season was supposed to start on April 23, but MTS refused to fulfill some of the conditions put forward by the GRA.

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Patron of Clan Jugnaut

This regulatory body, created by the government to subordinate to the MTC, is headed by Dev Biharri. A former deputy editor-in-chief of a magazine where editorial choice is more dictated by the advertising department, he was Pravind Jugnaut’s press officer from 2000 to 2005 and from 2010 to 2011. He remained loyal to him during his two desert crossings. before becoming an adviser to Prime Minister Anirud Jugnaut in 2014. This is the time when the old man cedes his chair to his son.

With the passage of the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing law in 2020, and the election of Jean-Michel Giraud as president of MTC last year, GRA has offered the club to operate as a private company. He “resurrected” his subsidiary MTC Sports and Leisure Limited (MTCSL) launched a few years ago (See Daily, March 24, 2021). Cohabitation with GRA was not easy. The MTC has gone to the Supreme Court for some of the rulings it considers inappropriate.

For example, GRA did not accept on Tuesday 19 April the one million rupiah payment for the MTCSL racing license. It was proposed to settle this deal in four installments. MTCL issued a legal notice seeking Rs 7.3 billion in damages. GRA is back in business, demanding that the racing program be drawn up by its racing division, which Jean-Michel Giraud considers “unacceptable”.

The Champ-de-Mars case must also be heard before the judges, as the mayor’s office indicated in its letter that it acted on instructions from the Ministry of Local Authorities. It is clear to the BTC that the government’s tactic is to bleed it dry by depriving it of income. This is done in order to leave the running of the races to betting magnate Jean-Michel Li Shim, who is known to be the biggest financial backer of the Jugnaut clan.

Khulwant Ubhiram, frontman of Jean-Michel Lee Shim, has already submitted a proposal to GRA to organize races across the company. LLC “Peoples Turf” Ironically, “People” means “Lepep” in Creole, which seems to be a tribute to the Lepep Alliance, which won the December 2014 election. the most popular sport. after football.

Slow death

The founder of SMS Pariaz actually owns a hippodrome in Petit Gamin, a place sandwiched between the Arsenal and Balaclava in the northwest of the island. He already controls a horse racing lottery and a horse feed company, which coincidentally led to a change in the law. In recent years, the prime minister has also made decisions as part of budgetary arrangements to advance his activities.

Five years ago, two hippodrome projects were given a first-class funeral to leave the course open for Jean-Michel Li Shim. Automatic Limited Liability Systems (ASL), operator of betting on horses and foreign football matches by telephone, was the favorite of the project in Pierrefonds in partnership with the Medina sugar mill (see Le Quotidien of March 22, 2016). It has been lost due to gambling law changes that favor rival SMS Pariaz.

The site at Pierrefonds was considered better than the Champ de Mars, which is crushed by the heat in the Port Louis basin. The Terra sugar group also approached ASL for a similar project in Pamplemousses to the north. Preference was given to the more moderate, Pierrefond, especially since half of the Mauritians live in Plaine-Wilhems, from where it is easy to get to. These two projects were to be presented urgently during a special PTS meeting…

The GRA vs MTC match does not bode well for racing fans. Horse racing, they say, will suffer the same fate as football. Or slow death.

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