Selfish actions of the five Airbnbs send racing back into damage control
The voice of the race reason, veteran trainer Mick Price, also said it bluntly when asked for his opinion by Age.
“They are all guilty of stupidity,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear to everyone in our Victorian community regarding a 9am curfew, so why doesn’t that apply to them? It was a blatant violation. “
Each of the five jockeys will feel the shock differently. Significant damage to Kah will go to his reputation as one of the few household names in the race. However, the young riders Brown and Gaudray will feel the financial impacts the hardest as their ability to earn an income is effectively taken away from them.
Both experienced Melham and Zahra, several winning Group 1 jockeys, find themselves in awkward positions but have had lucrative careers thus far which, like Kah, have put them financially off the track. They don’t have the same public profiles as Kah, who has carried a burden as a sports heroine.
Racing Victoria also said Age On Sunday, he would review “in due course” whether or not jockeys are eligible for the awards in the 2020-21 racing season, which includes the Scobie Breasley medal. Kah and Zahra are said to be among the main contenders for the Darling Prize.
The original quartet of Kah, Melham, Brown and Gaudray also face an additional month of inactivity if the stewards find that they have misled their original evidence as to whether Zahra was also there.
With undoubtedly clear community expectations hovering above the heads of Racing Victoria’s stewards, the sport’s lawmakers needed to send a strong message.
Scenes from an engagement party in St Kilda East, where a COVID-19 outbreak put the entire Victorian community at risk, angered audiences.
The revelations over the weekend that five jockeys and two non-racing participants had done the same in complete disregard of government restrictions also angered sports administrators and participants who relied on the fact that the industry stays in action.
The problem racing faces in the public eye, however, is that individual acts regularly negatively impact the industry as a whole. Regardless of what happened at this Airbnb last Wednesday night – probably irrelevant, in fact – five people made a selfish decision that once again damaged the sport’s brand as a whole.
Once they have had their day, they will be welcome back to the industry again, just as Moody was and just as Melham had been after his recent return from betting related offenses. Running, like most sports, is quick to forgive.
But again, it’s the industry as a whole that will have to pick up the pieces.
“As an industry, we seem to have a habit, once a year, of doing something incredibly damaging to ourselves as an industry – usually around this time of year – and for all of us who love sport and industry, we ‘are all equally frustrated,’ Pakula said on Saturday.
“But the race has an incredible ability to endure and keep going.”