By Jon Lees
Australia: Jamie Kah and Ben Melham are among four jockeys who have been stood down for 14 days for an alleged breach of Victoria’s COVID-19 protocols.
Kah, Melham, Ethan Brown and apprentice Celine Gaudray will face a stewards’ inquiry on Friday [August 27] on charges that they were present at an Airbnb after 9pm on August 25 with ‘non-licensed individuals’ in breach of both state rules which prohibit such gatherings and a Melbourne curfew.
The riders’ alleged conduct was described by Racing Victoria CEO Giles Thompson as “reckless” and “a slap in the face” to those in the racing industry who have worked to keep the sport going during the pandemic.
“These individuals could have put at risk the very continuance of our sport and also blatantly disregarded the broader community implications through their selfish and thoughtless actions,” he said in a statement..
“The stewards have elected to lay significant charges against these individuals, which is appropriate given the potential impact their actions could have had on community safety, the livelihoods of the 25,000 Victorian jobs supported by racing and the welfare of the horses who rely on the daily care and exercise the industry provides.
“To see all of that potentially thrown away by the reckless behaviour of a small few is incredibly disappointing and far from what is expected of our industry participants.
“While these actions do not reflect the majority, I want to make it extremely clear to all industry participants of the critical need to abide by all industry and Government directives, especially as we enter the Spring Racing Carnival period.
“Thank you to those that continue to do the right thing by the industry at all times and I hope this serves as a firm reminder of how fortunate we are to continue racing and the importance of adhering to the protocols.”
The four jockeys potentially face further sanctions at the conclusion of the inquiry and in the meantime have been told they cannot attend any licensed premises or race meetings for at least 14 days (concluding on 9 September 2021) and not until clearance is provided by the stewards and negative COVID-19 tests have been provided.
• Visit the Racing Victoria website