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Racehorse owner reports trainer to National Horseracing Authority over ‘racist’ WhatsApp voice note

Durban – The National Horseracing Authority (NHA) has launched an inquiry into the alleged misconduct of one of its members who has been accused of racism.

Yaseen Ebrahim, a businessman and racehorse owner from Zululand, reported Garth Puller, a former jockey turned racehorse trainer, to the NHA.

The hearing began last Friday at the NHA’s Durban offices at the Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse.

Edward Abraham, from Pather and Pather Attorneys, is representing Ebrahim.

Abraham said his client and Puller had a disagreement on June 6.

“Mr Puller trains three of my clients’ horses in Summerveld. In June, my client called Mr Puller wanting to know what the chances were of one of his horses named Wishful Girl Linn winning a race. Mr Puller informed my client that the horse was in a race that was taking place in Greyville but he did not believe the horse would win.”

However, the horse won.

Abraham said: “My client was upset because he missed the race and because Mr Puller, as the trainer, gave the impression that the horse would not win.”

Abraham said the next day Ebrahim informed Puller that he would get another trainer.

“On June 26, my client received a voice note via WhatsApp from Mr Puller which said: ‘Ya, it was a f***ing Muslim. Plenty of money but they are just bragkat f*** in try to show off all the time.

“We understand bragkat to be an Afrikaans word for someone who brags a lot. This voice note was meant for someone else and he sent it to my client by mistake. We believe that Mr Puller was speaking to someone about Wishful Girl Linn because she was participating in a race on the same day and people knew Mr Puller was her trainer.”

He said Ebrahim did not question him about the voice note but reported the matter to the NHA on June 28.

“We believe that Mr Puller is in contravention of the NHA rules in that he conducted himself in a manner that can be construed as either obscene, offensive, defamatory, racist, threatening, harassing, discriminating and or abusive toward my client.”

Abrahams said the NHA started the inquiry on Friday.

“My client is upset because instead of using his name, Mr Puller made a general statement about all Muslims. What does his religion have to do with anything? This type of behaviour is not acceptable in South Africa. We live in a democracy and we are governed by our constitution.

“My client is a seasoned businessman, who has been a racehorse owner for over 25 years. He owns businesses in the logistics and construction industries. He believes that the comments of Mr Puller are a reflection of the true status of the horse racing industry.”

Abraham said not enough had been done to ensure transformation in horse racing.

“This is the reason my client intends on pursuing this matter, to highlight not only what he believes to be unacceptable conduct of Mr Puller, but also to hopefully bring about awareness of the need for a complete transformation within the horse racing industry.”

He said after the inquiry, Ebrahim planned to take the matter to the Equality Court.

Puller, a former champion jockey, declined to comment due to the inquiry.

Vee Moodley, the chief executive officer of the NHA, confirmed that an inquiry into the allegations was underway.

He said the matter would resume in October.

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