Jockey Muzi Yeni is will not be riding Ten Gun Salute in tomorrow’s Vodacom Durban July after he and two other South African jockeys find themselves under investigation in Mauritius. Internationally experience Weichong Marwing, who has yet to win the big race, has been confirmed by trainer Duncan Howells. Ten Gun Salute is currently joint fourth favourite at 8-1.
Details of the Mauritian investigation are sketchy but according to Yenis attorney in South Africa, Bruce Armstrong, the chances of Yeni leaving the island before Monday are minimal. It is also alleged that Raymond Danielson and Brandon Lerena were videoed aboard a yacht owned by a Mauritian bookmaker, an illegal relationship on the island, and have each been handed three-month suspensions by the Mauritian racing authorities.
According to Armstrong, Yeni tried to leave last night (Thursday) but was detained at the airport. After being questioned by police, he was released on a warning that it was an on-going investigation and he was not allowed to leave the island.
Yeni had earlier voluntary submitted to a Mauritian Jockey Club inquiry after damning postings on social media but was cleared of the charges as there was no evidence that the posts had come from his phone.
However, now that he is under investigation by the Mauritian police tasked with racing matters, he is unlikely to be able to leave the island until the earliest on Monday on condition that he returns to faces any charges should they arise according to Armstrong.
Mauritius Turf Club Director Of Racing, Benoit Halbwachs, told the Sporting Post yesterday that Yeni was being prevented from leaving the island as police investigations into the Whatsapp case were continuing.
We did not find Mr Yeni guilty in this matter and the police are not telling us anything further. I spoke to them this morning and they have nothing to say. The jockey is not under arrest and has freedom of movement on the island, he said.
Halbwachs added that the Mauritius Turf Club would decide what action to take against Yeni in respect of the case where he was alleged to be one of three jockeys to have enjoyed a boat trip with a bookmaker. The decision would be made once the police had finalised the Whatsapp case.
Raymond Danielson and Brandon Lerena have already lodged appeals against their suspensions.
In Yenis absence Howells was forced to cast around for a suitable rider for Ten Gun Salute. The gelding has his quirks and it was thought by his connections that he got on best with Yeni, former first call rider to the Howells stable. In Yenis absence, Marwing, who has vast international experience, will get a chance to win the Vodacom Durban July, a glaring blank in his impressive CV.
Ten Gun Salute and last years winner, The Conglomerate, have been the money horses in the ante-post market. Both have been steadily supported from 12-1 over the past few days into joint fourth favourites at 8-1.
The two three-year-olds, Edict Of Nantes and Al Sahem have been steady around joint favourites at 5-1 for the past week along with Back Arthur who has shortened from 7-1.
For the historically minded, the last favourite to win was the filly Igugu in 2011. Since then three 20-1 chances have arrived with only Power King (14-1) and Legislate (5-1), who won on an objection, the shorter priced winners. This years race is almost a true handicap so even if you hold a ticket on a 50-1 chance in the office sweep, do not despair.
Latest betting guide for the 2017 Vodacom Durban July to be run at Greyville tomorrow , July 1.
9-2 Al Sahem
11-2 Edict Of Nantes; Black Arthur
8-1 The Conglomerate, Its My Turn, Ten Gun Salute
17-1 Marinaresco, Nightingale
20-1 Mr Winsome
30-1 Safe Harbour
33-1 Saratoga Dancer
36-1 French Navy, Brazuca, Pagoda
45-1 Tilbury Fort
50-1 Master Sabina
Odds courtesy of www.trackandball.co.za
and subject to change