Racing Victoria (RV) Chief Executive Officer, Giles Thompson, has released the following statement in relation to COVID protocol breaches by four Victorian jockeys:
“The alleged behaviour of these four jockeys is a slap in the face to every member of the racing industry that has worked incredibly hard to protect the sport and the community while continuing to race since COVID restrictions were first introduced in March 2020.
“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.
“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 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 Stewards have adjourned the inquiry and until 9:30am on Friday 27 August. A further Report will be provided at the conclusion of the inquiry.”
Acting on advice from Racing Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer, the Stewards have advised the jockeys in question that they are not to attend any licensed premises or race meetings, with immediate effect, for a period of 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.
The Victorian Thoroughbred Racing Industry has safely conducted more than 750 meetings since the pandemic first began in March 2020 and this has been due to the stringent COVID protocols in place and the hard work of every member of the racing industry.
The protocols serve to protect the health of industry staff, participants and the wider Victorian community, maintain 25,000 full-time jobs, and ensure daily care and exercise can be afforded to all thoroughbred racehorses.