News Coronavirus Jockeys appeal lockdown party penalty

Jockeys appeal lockdown party penalty

Mark Zahra is among the banned jockeys. Photo: Getty
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Three Victorian jockeys banned from the Spring Carnival for attending an illegal Airbnb party, have lodged appeals against the penalties imposed by racing stewards.

Mark Zahra, Ben Melham and Ethan Brown stayed at the Mornington Peninsula property last Wednesday with top rider Jamie Kah and apprentice jockey Celine Gaudray.

All five pleaded guilty to “failure or refusal to comply with an order, direction, or requirement of the stewards or an official”.

Stewards last week suspended their racing licences for three months, meaning none of them can ride in the 2021 Spring Racing carnival.

Zahra, Melham and Brown have each lodged appeals against the riding bans and fines imposed, while Kah has apologised for her behaviour and so far has not joined the appeal bid.

“I am deeply embarrassed and disappointed with myself,” she said on Friday in a statement on Twitter.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that further charges have been laid against the jockeys for allegedly lying about the party.

Stewards say when they questioned Zahra on 28 August, he claimed he wasn’t at the Airbnb, but then changed his story later that day and admitted being present.

“The evidence tendered by Mark Zahra to RV Stewards during the interview on the morning of 28 August 2021 is alleged to be false and/or misleading,” the steward’s report states.

Brown, Kah, Melham and Gaudray are also accused of covering up for Zahra, by failing to tell stewards he was at the house.

All five riders will again face the tribunal on the false evidence charges, while Melham, Zahra and Brown will also have an appeal directions hearing.

The racing industry has been allowed to keep operating under COVID restrictions, and Racing Victoria says more than 750 race meetings have been held safely since the pandemic began.