Jockey, 16, cops Baker fall blame
IT TOOK a Racing NSW stewards inquiry just two hours yesterday to charge 16-year-old apprentice jockey Joshua Jones, of Ballina, with careless riding for his conduct in Race Two at Grafton Racecourse on December 2.
Stewards found that during the race Jones permitted his mount, Concitare, to shift inwards on the home straight, crowding Hotshot Hayil, ridden by Daniel Baker.
Hotshot Hayil became unbalanced and fell, bringing Baker, 23, crashing to the turf.
Baker was taken to Grafton hospital where he underwent emergency surgery, but died two days later in hospital on the Gold Coast from head injuries.
Yesterday Jones pleaded not guilty to the careless riding charge, but after viewing evidence the panel of three stewards suspended Jones' licence to ride in races for a period of three months.
Inquiry chairman Craig Pringle told the hearing that Jones' youth and inexperience was taken into account when assessing the penalty.
However, he said Jones' poor race riding record, which includes eight suspensions, did not entitle him to any special consideration.
"His degree of carelessness and the consequential effects of the interference were at the higher end of the scale," Pringle said.
"The final comment on the matter is: Josh, you are an apprentice of some promise, but your career is at the crossroads unless you immediately take stock of your riding."
During the inquiry, which was held at Clarence River Jockey Club, Jones, Jones' master Stephen Lee, Grafton apprentice jockey Ben Looker, Casino-based jockey Lorna Cook, and Grafton jockey Andrew Parramore gave evidence.
Brett Bellamy, trainer of Hotshot Hayil, and Baker's mother Debbie, also made statements to the inquiry.
Steward Drew Smith dismissed the Grafton course proper as having played any part in Baker's fall, saying it was in 'good raceable order'.
Ms Baker remained impassive throughout the hearing, but collapsed into the arms of family following the inquiry.
She was supported throughout proceedings by Daniel's godfather, horse trainer Gordon Yorke.
Meanwhile, following the hearing Racing NSW Chairman of Stewards Ray Murrihy handed down the findings of the Riding Skills Panel to which Jones had been referred following incidents in metropolitan races.
Jones will be required to attend a series of remedial riding tuition sessions, and will have his metropolitan riders licence revoked if he incurs a careless riding penalty within three months of resuming racing.