A jockey has blamed a photographer for distracting his horse in the closing stages of winning a $1.8 million (£1.5 million) race — for which he was punished with a careless riding ban.
Jockey Ben Melham rode his horse Griff to victory in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas race in Australia last Saturday.
— Ben melham (@BMelham) October 16, 2023
However, despite winning the race, Melham collected a 10-day ban for careless riding.
The Mirror reports that racing stewards suspended the jockey for failing to attempt to correct his horse’s dramatic shift to his right in the final 100 meters of the race.
And on Monday, Melham shared a picture on X (formerly known as Twitter) of the race finish and identified who he thought was to blame for his horse’s drift.
In the photo shared on X, the jockey drew a red ring around a sports photographer taking pictures while sitting on a ladder and captioned the image with the words: “The Culprit!”
Melham lodged an appeal of his 10-day ban with the Victorian Racing Tribunal panel. According to Racing.com, the jockey relied on the argument that the photographer bore responsibility for Griff’s drift in his defense at a hearing before the Victoria Racing Tribunal on Tuesday.
However, Melham failed to overturn his 10-meeting careless riding ban with this argument and Victoria Racing Tribunal chairman John Bowman said that the panel was unconvinced. They reportedly said that they could not totally accept Melham’s evidence that a photographer had spooked his horse in the run to the line.
“We are saying that we are not convinced that your horse was spooked by a photographer on a small step ladder about 20 to 30 meters before the finishing post and about 30 meters away from the track and on the inside,” Bowman says.
“Certainly, the presence of such a person has the potential to cause problems, but we are not swayed that the presence of that person inside the track caused what occurred.”
The dates of the ban rule him out of two of Australia’s biggest race days, the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate meetings.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.