Trainer's legal bid thwarted

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Durban - Horse trainer Anil Maharaj, whose longstanding dispute with KwaZulu-Natal’s gaming and racing authorities now sees him claiming R20 million in damages for racial discrimination, has suffered another setback.

His latest action against the KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Board, and horseracing and betting company Gold Circle, has been stayed by the Durban High Court until an application requiring him to put up R100 000 in security for costs, is finalised.

The “unemployed” Morningside man, who allegedly owes R900 000 in legal costs for previous failed court applications, has been involved in a lengthy court battle with the two entities.

Gold Circle has described him as a “vexatious litigant” and is worried he might continue with his court cases, leaving the company saddled with the costs to defend them.

On Friday, Judge Mohini Moodley granted the board’s application for his case to be stayed pending the finalisation of the application for security.

Maharaj has claimed that after serving a five-year suspension imposed by the National Horse Racing Authority - he did not disclose the reason for the suspension - Gold Circle was preventing him from leasing stables.

His argument is that he committed a similar offence to that of a white trainer and Gold Circle employee, but that the white trainer was still being allowed to lease stables from Gold Circle.

He said the other trainer had received a suspended sentence with no sanction imposed in terms of stabling.

He cited another example of alleged discrimination when a white senior riding master at the Jockey Academy was dismissed for unbecoming conduct with a female apprentice, but was still granted a trainer’s licence by the horseracing authority and given stables by Gold Circle.

He felt he was subjected to “blatant discrimination” and denied stables by Gold Circle because he was not white.

Maharaj said he had made written and oral submissions to the board during Gold Circle’s application for various licences. He argued that the board was obliged to investigate his allegations, but failed to do so.

Maharaj argued that as a consequence of Gold Circle and the board’s conduct, he had been unable to perform as a horse trainer. He is claiming R10m each for the impairment of his dignity and loss of stakes money, as well as R60 000 for loss of monthly income.

In opposing papers before the court, the board’s chief executive, Portia Baloyi, said they had considered Maharaj’s submissions and had found no reasons to refuse Gold Circle’s licence applications.

She said Maharaj had recourse to appeal the board’s decision, but had chosen not to do so, opting instead for court action in which he accused the board and the provincial premier of colluding with Gold Circle to allegedly racially discriminate against him.

Baloyi argued that it was not within the board’s powers to investigate the nature of Maharaj’s complaint and it could not, by law, interfere with Gold Circle’s business processes.

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