Will the government manage to find another race organizer to replace Jean Michel Lee Shim's People's Turf Club PLC before the next general election? It's a real race against time that's playing out, with negotiations underway at the highest level.

The fate of People's Turf PLC (PTP), headed by Jean-Michel Lee Shim, is increasingly uncertain. The latter's situation deteriorated following harsh criticism expressed during a press conference by the leader of the Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD), Xavier-Luc Duval. This pointed out the catastrophic management of horse racing and the Champ de Mars under the direction of the PTP.

Since the latter announced, in an editorial published last week, its withdrawal from the organization of horse racing, and the government expressed its dissatisfaction with the situation of the horse racing industry during a high-level meeting , eyes are turning to the Mauritius Turf Club (MTC) to replace it. Well-informed sources reveal that intense negotiations are underway to make this transition.

At the same time, the government would point the finger at a political nominee accused of having misled the Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, about the real situation prevailing at the Champ de Mars. This nominee would also be accused of having further favored the interests of Jean Michel Lee Shim to the detriment of the public. This situation comes in a context where recent revelations of doping cases in racing have given rise to serious concerns.

Growing unpopularity

The generalized discontent of the public, more precisely of racegoers, had been expressed as early as 2022. That year, the MTC was preparing to say goodbye to the Champ de Mars to make way for the PTP, a discontent which had however been completely ignored .

The government is also fully aware of the seriousness of the doping cases recently reported. The growing unpopularity of the PTC has, according to several sources, also reflected on him, which would push him to now seek to dissociate himself from this organization, more precisely from Jean Michel Lee Shim.

It is above all the laxity with which the doping affair was handled that the government would deplore. He would regret that it was only after learning of the denunciations made on social networks that the Horse Racing Division decided to take matters into their own hands. Several voices underlined the seriousness of this affair which broke out a few days before the first racing day, highlighting its implications in the eyes of international authorities.

The government is working to restore the confidence of golfers by quickly establishing a “feel-good factor”. The PTP has already announced its intention to withdraw from the organization of races for the next horse racing season, but the government would apparently like the departure of Jean Michel Lee Shim from the Champ de Mars to take place as quickly as possible. possible.

Pressure would thus be exerted on the leaders of the MTC in the hope of convincing them to quickly take control of the organization of the races (see box). Several advisors are fully aware of the urgency of resolving the situation as the next elections approach. The exit of the PTP from the Champ de Mars therefore constitutes a file with multiple political ramifications.
The government's desire is not only to redress the horse racing situation, given the electoral context. His wish would also be to promote his relations with the PMSD, especially after Xavier-Luc Duval publicly denounced the catastrophic management of the Champ de Mars.

A strong school of thought within the government believes that dissociating itself from the PTP would significantly help seal an alliance with the PMSD. All this agitation coincides with the reinforced presence of the blues on the ground, with members already announcing their candidacy within a possible alliance.

Reached by telephone to comment on the government's efforts to get rid of the PTP and Jean Michel Lee Shim, Xavier-Luc Duval declared that it has always been an aberration to replace the MTC with this entity. He added that the successor to the TPP must be found without government intervention.

But a question remains: will the Militant Socialist Movement be able to do without a donor as important as Jean Michel Lee Shim during this electoral period? In addition to the vast financial resources available to the businessman, one must also take into account his very effective network of contacts in the field. Several sources evoke the pragmatism of Pravind Jugnauth, arguing that he did not hesitate to sacrifice several of his close collaborators in the past, such as Sherry Singh.

MTC meeting this Tuesday

A meeting of the MTC board of directors is scheduled for Tuesday, May 28, 2024 to review the ongoing negotiations around the Champ de Mars. However, a strong current is already skeptical about the idea of ​​resuming the organization of the races, in particular because of the way in which the MTC believes it has been treated by the government in the past.

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