By Jon Lees
Australia: The hunt is on in the state of Victoria for the author of a malicious tweet which alleged G1-winning jockey Noel Callow had been involved in a heavy session of drinking and drug-taking on a night before he was due to be riding.
Callow went on to win on his only ride at Kilmore, on the country circuit, on Tuesday [Jan 12] – but only after he had undergone a drugs and breath test and was quizzed by stewards about the social media post.
An account under the name of The Provincial Prophet messaged Racing Victoria stewards to claim 45-year-old Callow had been seen in a hotel the night before where he had “100 pints last night 2 bags, last seen at the sporting globe Richmond claiming not to be Noel Callow”.
Another tweet claimed that the jockey had consumed “40 pints” alongside a bag emoji and “can no longer ride”. The account, which had 38 followers, has since been deactivated.
After being allowed to ride, Callow steered favourite Diamonds’n’stones to victory for the stable of Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes. However, he said he had been ‘rattled’ by the incident and was unhappy at being questioned about his whereabouts on Monday night.
“I know the stewards have a job to do and absolutely no problem with the drug test, they happen all the time,” Callow told Racenet. “But it was when stewards called me to the room to talk about the tweet and its allegations that shocked me. I thought ‘Are they serious?”
He added: “I’m not on social media but it’s disappointing and frustrating that I have to answer these sort of allegations from someone with no credibility.”
The RV stewards have defended their decision to question Callow, who has ridden 1,789 winners including five at G1 level, and have instructed an intelligence analyst to try to identify the person behind the account.
Matthew Hyland, chief executive of the Victorian Jockeys Association, said there should be an established way to handle such claims.
“The stewards have got a role to play, however, we got to be mindful jockeys have got a target on their backs every day,” he said. “The last thing we need is people sending stuff out without any credibility.”
“It’s already a high-pressured environment jockeys work in every day. It is important they go there and they’re focused on the job at hand and any disruption like that can affect them.”
• More Australian news at the Racenet website