Racing chiefs blast riders for 'slap in the face' COVID Airbnb breach as four jockeys banned for three months

FOUR jockeys have been banned for three months after they flouted COVID-19 regulations in Australia.

The riders, including Jamie Kah and Ben Melham, have admitted they attended a get together at an Airbnb in Mornington, Melbourne on Wednesday night.

The Aussie quartet will be sidelined until November 25 and will miss a number of big events including the Spring Carnival and Melbourne Cup, after they broke both state government and racing protocols.

The multiple Group 1 winners, along with young guns Ethan Brown and Celine Gaudray, were slapped with the ban and fined £2,600 at a hearing on Friday.

All four admitted they had contravened the rules and while they cannot ride competitively for three months, they will be allowed to participate in track work and official trials once they have completed a 14-day stand-down period.

Kah, who became the first jockey in the history of Victorian racing to ride 100 metropolitan winners in a season last term, took to Twitter to express her regret.

She said: "I want to apologise for my recent behaviour in breaching the government and racing Covid rules.

"I am deeply embarrassed and disappointed with myself.

"There is no excuse for what I have done and I have let myself down, my family and friends, the racing industry and all Victorians who are doing the right thing in this lockdown.

"I deserve the penalty handed down by the stewards and will take time to reflect on my actions and its impact on so many people."

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All four jockeys have been advised of their rights of appeal, which they must lodge within 72 hours with the Victorian Racing Tribunal.

All pleaded guilty at the behind closed doors hearing which the stewards took into account.

But officials 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 COVID-19 protocols.

Racing Victoria's CEO Giles Thompson hit out at the riders in a statement.

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He said: "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.

"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."

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