COVID-19: Golden Slipper celebration lands Waterhouse worker with ban

Horse Racing Farnan
Celebratory mood: Neil Paine (left) has been sanctioned for overzealous Golden Slipper celebrations. Photo: Steve Hart/

By Jon Lees

Australia: A member of Gai Waterhouse’s staff has been banned from going racing for a month for breaching social distancing rules when celebrating the stable’s Golden Slipper victory last month.

In an example of the challenges of following coronavirus protocols to allow horse racing to continue behind closed doors, Neil Paine admitted he forgot the rules in his excitement over Farnan’s triumph in the world’s richest two-year-old race.

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Paine, colourfully dressed in yellow trousers and matching trilby, was seen on TV exuberantly celebrating victory in the A$3.5 million (£1.78m) race with Waterhouse’s co-trainer Adrian Bott at Rosehill Gardens.

The former jockey ran across the parade ring and enthusiastically hugged Bott at the end of the feature, which was staged without any spectators present and with jockeys under segregation.

Racing NSW stewards subsequently contacted Paine and have excluded him from all race meetings throughout April, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I’m an excitable bloke,” Paine told the Herald. “It was a Golden Slipper. I forgot all about [the protocols] and I know I shouldn’t have done it. It’s happened. I’m sorry it did happen and from now on I’ll be careful when I return to the track.”

With horse racing the only major sport that has continued in Australia, officials have acted to strictly enforce any breaches of coronavirus protocols.

Last month apprentice jockey Zoe White was given a six-month suspension by Queensland stewards for flouting an order to self-isolate for 14 days by attending trackwork outside her home region.

Waterhouse, who was winning her seventh Golden Slipper, has a horse in training called Social Distancing.

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