By Jon Lees
Australia: An apprentice jockey in Australia has been hit with a six-month disqualification for riding trackwork in defiance of new COVID-19 rules.
Zoe White, 21, had been ordered by a Queensland steward to stand down from riding and self-isolate for 14 days but on Wednesday attended trackwork at Rockhampton.
She also nominated herself to ride in the Central Zone 6 despite being required to stay within Brisbane Metro South West Zone 2, where her boss is based.
Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Stewards issued the penalty on Thursday after conducting an inquiry with White by telephone.
QRIC racing integrity commissioner Ross Barnett said White’s actions had placed the industry and the community at risk and would not be tolerated.
“The zoning rules have been put in place to protect the health and safety of racing industry participants and the public in unprecedented times,” he said.
“The adoption of designated racing regions to further support the Queensland Government’s direction to stay local, reduce non-essential travel and to limit the spread of COVID-19 are non-negotiable.
“These new rules are currently protecting the livelihoods of thousands of people in the racing industry, to flout them shows a total disregard for the difficult situation everyone is currently facing.
“Six months disqualification is an appropriate penalty and a lesson for every racing participant to abide by these directions at all times.”
In a Facebook post on Monday White, who has ridden 175 winners, indicated she had not tested positive for Coronavirus.
“Just for further clarification, I’m not out on a positive,” she wrote. “Just having a few dramas with racing QLD and the zoning and an upset in licensing since I got canceled. So no positive this time since I’ve been asked a lot already #whoops.”
The disqualification will start immediately and remain in place until October 2, 2020.
Queensland Racing recently announced the cancellation of its carnival in order to concentrate horse racing into five regional zones.