The organisers of the annual Mascom horse race have suspended eleven stables from taking part in the race next month, saying they failed to comply with rules of the competition.
The affected stables are in Maun, Charleshill, Mahalapye, Good Hope, Werda and Sehitwa.
One of the affected stable owners, Philip Wright said they learnt about their suspensions when they tried to register for the race. Wright said the organisers did not give them reasons for the suspensions.
The chairperson of the organising committee, Charlie Mabua confirmed the suspensions saying the stables were suspended after failing to comply with race rules.
He said the stables embarrassed the organisers at last year’s race and as a result, they (the organisers) were left with no choice, but to cancel the participation of the stables this year.
Mabua said over 60 stables will be battling it out during the race.
“We have horses from Lesotho and Namibia that have registered for the competition. We also have new stables that will be competing,” he said.
However, Wright claimed the stables were suspended after questioning some arrangements last year.
“Horse owners wanted the race to be organised properly. The LOC never consulted us. They call the race the Mascom national derby, but they invite horses from other countries. “They should just say it is an international race. Registration fee for Tswana and thoroughbred horses is the same, but prize money is different,” he said.
He complained that the Shashe ground is not in good condition and poses danger to both the horses and jockeys. He said despite that, there is no compensation in case of injuries.
Wright said the organisers are raking in large sums of money from registration fees and gate takings and should improve the state of the ground. Wright complained there are no qualified race starters, which compromises the outcome.
“They just pick volunteers from the crowd and that is risky. This is an international event and should be done properly. We have had instances of false starts before. We are not saying we want to cancel the race or sabotage it. We want things done properly,” he argued.
He revealed that local horse owners are paying a lot of money to transport and feed their horses during the event. He said on the other hand, the Namibian government provides transport for both horses and spectators.
He said Botswana horses could not be expected to win the race as they are competing with horses that have been well-trained.
The race sponsors, Mascom Wireless has partnered with Botsepa Agencies that arranges the race.
Chief communications and public relations officer for the mobile phone company, Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego confirmed their awareness of the suspension of local stables.
“We are aware that six stables have been suspended for violations of rules and regulations and details have been communicated to the affected stables by the organisers,” said Lebotse-Sebego.
She explained that in their relationship with Botsepa, each partner has duties and responsibilities clearly defined and aligned to their area of competence.
“For this reason, the choice of the field, rules and regulations (governing all aspects of the race including discipline) are the responsibility of the organising partner, Botsepa Agencies,” she said.
Lebotse-Sebego said Mascom’s sponsorship for the Mascom Derby covers the majority of the costs, which include prize money, management fees, event management and logistics, including standby emergency medical attention, marketing and communication. She stated that the name of the event has been changed slightly to reflect a re-branding of the event.