Five months: Jamie Kah out until end of January after second ban over COVID-19 breach

Horse Racing Jamie Kah
Jamie Kah: Melbourne champion to serve five month ban after COVID-19 breach. Photo: Racing Photos for Racing Victoria

By Jon Lees

Australia: Jamie Kah will not ride again until the end of January 2022 after a tribunal issued her with an additional two-month ban for giving false or misleading evidence to stewards investigating her presence at an Airbnb gathering which breached COVID-19 rules.

The 25-year-old Kah, Melbourne’s record-breaking metro champion, was already serving a three-month suspension for attending the event with four other jockeys, ruling her out of the entire Melbourne Spring Carnival.

But she received an additional punishment on Friday for failing to disclose that Mark Zahra, had been at the August get-together with Ben Melham, Ethan Brown and apprentice Celine Gaudray.

Kah subsequently announced she would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Victoria, stating on Twitter: “My reputation, which I have earned by my conduct over my whole life as an honest person, is very important to me.”

Kah had denied the charge but the panel rejected her explanation that when asked “Who ended up there?”, she thought the stewards only meant those present at the end of the event, Zahra having left by the time police arrived at the house.

The tribunal said the wastage of time that resulted from Kah “wilfully” omitting Zahra’s name was something the stewards, under an increasing workload since the pandemic, could ill afford.

In its finding, the panel said: “Further, given that this offence occurred in the context of COVID-19, this giving of false or misleading evidence could have had disastrous consequences, both for those participating, other members of the industry with whom they came into contact and the general public.

“Many hours passed between your false or misleading evidence to the Stewards on 26 August 2021 and your ultimate admission on 30 August 2021 that Mr Zahra had been present at the party.

“Indeed, the greater part of a day (and his riding at jump-outs on 27 August 2021) had passed between Mr Zahra leaving the party and his admission to the Stewards. In short, there could have been a calamity.”

Kah’s solicitor Damian Sheales had argued that a five-month sentence would represent a “world record penalty” with the three-month ban having already cost her mounts in races like the Cox Plate and Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.

But the tribunal said those races occurred during the first period of suspension, which Kah accepted without challenge. While considering her status and unblemished disciplinary record, no discounting factor would be applied to the sentence and the two bans would be served consecutively.

Zahra had two months, of which one month was suspended, added to his three-month ban for giving false or misleading evidence earlier in the week. Gaudray was suspended for two weeks for the charge, with a further six weeks suspended for two years. Melham and Brown will appear before the panel next week.

• Visit the Victoria Racing Tribunal website

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