2018 Durban July news - No Jooste runners at Greyville but staff still prepared to protest

Jonathan Vine in Latest News 5 Jul 2018
Marinaresco (left) winning the 2017 Durban July.

While the planned protest against Markus Jooste is no longer necessary, disgruntled grooms will make their feelings known ahead of the Durban July at Greyville on Saturday.

50,000 spectators will gather at Greyville on Saturday afternoon, all ready to enjoy the style, pageantry and sporting excellence that comes with the Durban July. A stellar cast will assemble to take part in the 2018 renewal of this historic handicap, but this year’s Durban July looks set to be shrouded in controversy.

The first bone of contention for sportsman and spectators was the possible presence of Markus Jooste, one of South Africa’s most powerful businessmen and socialite, who’s currently under investigation for fraud. A regular at the country’s biggest meetings, the possibility of a horse owned by Markus Jooste running in the Durban July had caused over 200,000 PSA (Public Servants Association) members to plan a protest during the meeting.

Ivan Fredricks, PSA general manager, said earlier in the week, “People need to understand that Mr Jooste cannot be allowed to continue making millions while his actions have had a devastating effect on thousands of people’s pension investments.”

When the entries for the Durban July were finalised, organisers breathed a sigh of relief, as no horses baring Jooste’s silks featured in the final field. Just when one bullet had been dodged, a second pistol was pointed straight at the Durban July, with grooms staff set to express their displeasure at working conditions during South Africa’s most famous Festival.



During the week, meetings have been taking place around the country, as trainers and staff try to resolve their dispute. 600 staff from the Summerveld, Ashburton and KwaZulu-Natal stables have expressed their dismay at the wages they receive and seem certain to take their protests onto the Durban July stage.

"Grooms at Summerveld are being paid at least the minimum wage required by law, but there are a few other grievances we need to address." Said KZN-based trainer Paul Lafferty.

However, a spokesman for the protest group told TimesLIVE, “We work seven days a week. The trainer said he could increase our salary from R3‚100 to R3‚250. It means nothing to us because we want to know how much we’re earning an hour."

One of the continent’s most famous trainers, Mike De Kock stated earlier this season that possible staff strikes could result in his famous yard being closed. With just hours to go until the Durban July, it’s unlikely this dispute will be resolved and Festival organisers will just have to deal with this, and the Markus Jooste situation, as best as possible. 

Meanwhile, on the track, Justin Snaith’s African Night Sky remains the firm-favourite to win the Durban July, with Sportingbet quoting odds of 5/2. Stablemates Do It Again and Made To Conquer sit second and third in the market, with Brett Crawford’s White River the closest challenger to Justin Snaith’s trio of challengers.

*Current Durban July (7/7/18) betting with Sportingbet*
5/2 African Night Sky, 7/1 Do It Again, 9/1 Made To Conquer, 10/1 White River, Majestic Mambo, 11/1 Abashiri, 12/1 Elusiva Silva, 16/1 Bar

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2018 Durban July news - No Jooste runners at Greyville but staff still prepared to protest

While the planned protest against Markus Jooste is no longer necessary, disgruntled grooms will make their feelings known ahead of the Durban July at Greyville on Saturday 7th July.

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