Stewards' Report - COVID-19 Inquiry

Racing Victoria (RV) Stewards have today concluded an inquiry into the conduct of licensed jockeys Ethan Brown, Jamie Kah and Ben Melham and apprentice jockey Celine Gaudray upon receipt of information of possible breaches of COVID-19 protocols.

The Stewards yesterday charged Ethan Brown, Celine Gaudray, Jamie Kah and Ben Melham with breaching AR 232(b) which reads as follows:

AR 232 Failure to observe processes and directions of PRAs or Stewards

(b) fail or refuse to comply with an order, direction or requirement of the Stewards or an official

The particulars of the charge are summarised as follows:

  • On 25 August 2021, Jamie Kah, Ethan Brown, Ben Melham and Celine Gaudray were present at an “Airbnb” in Mornington after 9pm with two other non-licensed individuals.

  • This conduct is in breach of the current State Government Regulations (namely the Stay at Home Directions) which prohibit private gatherings for persons not otherwise living with one another. The conduct is also in breach of the imposed curfew for Metropolitan Melbourne.

  • Racing Victoria’s COVID Protocols state that any failure to comply with State Government Regulations will be deemed to be a failure or refusal to comply with an order, direction, or requirement of the Stewards or an official.

The Stewards continued their inquiry this morning with all four jockeys pleading guilty to their respective charges.

Stewards heard submissions on penalty and after doing so took into consideration their guilty pleas, each of the riders’ personal circumstances, that this was their first offence of this nature, that any suspension this time of year includes missing feature race meetings, and that the individuals expressed remorse.

The Stewards also took into consideration the serious nature of the offending, the potential severe ramifications that could flow from a breach of Racing Victoria’s COVID-19 Protocols, and that the penalty must be sufficient enough to deter others from breaching the COVID-19 Protocols. The penalty must also be seen to publicly address the seriousness of the offending and make clear that compliance with the COVID-19 Protocols is non-negotiable.

Taking into account the above considerations, the Stewards have determined that all four jockeys will have their licence to ride in races suspended for a period of three months.

The suspension begins at midnight on 26 August 2021 and will expire at midnight on 25 November 2021.

In addition, all jockeys were notified in writing today of their requirements to fulfil the recommendations of Racing Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) which includes a stand down order of 14 days (beginning today) from all licensed premises and that negative COVID-19 tests must be provided over that period.

The jockeys will be permitted to participate in trackwork, jump-outs and official trials once the 14 day stand down order from the CMO concludes on 9 September 2021.

All jockeys were advised of their rights of appeal which must be lodged with the Victorian Racing Tribunal within three days.