Top Vic jockey says sorry for COVID breach

·2-min read

Top jockey Jamie Kah has expressed remorse for COVID breaches that have seen her and three other riders fined and banned from racing for three months.

Kah, Ethan Brown, Ben Melham and apprentice jockey Celine Gaudray breached Victoria's lockdown restrictions by staying at a Mornington Airbnb with two others on Wednesday night.

All six have been fined $5452 each for breaching the directions of the chief health officer, after police were called to the Tallis Drive property due to a noise complaint just before midnight.

The four riders also pleaded guilty to charges laid by racing stewards, of "failure or refusal to comply with an order, direction, or requirement of the stewards or an official".

Stewards suspended the racing licences of all four jockeys for three months, meaning none of them can ride in the 2021 Spring Racing carnival.

Kah has apologised for her behaviour.

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

"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 the time to reflect on my actions and its impact on so many people."

A two-day racing tribunal inquiry into the incident concluded on Friday.

The suspension expires at midnight on November 25.

The stewards said they took into account the riders' guilty pleas and expressions of remorse, but the penalties had to be sufficient to deter others from COVID breaches.

Any appeal must be lodged within three days.

The jockeys have been banned from race meetings and licensed venues for at least two weeks, and until cleared by stewards and negative COVID-19 tests have been provided.

But they will be allowed to do trackwork, jump-outs and official trials after September 9.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said he was "bitterly disappointed" with the jockeys.

"We are always disappointed when people do not follow the rules and we understand Racing Victoria are taking immediate measures and ... will send a strong message," he told reporters on Friday.

Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson condemned the riders' actions.

"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," he said in a statement on Thursday.

He also warned of the "critical need" for the industry to follow COVID-19 directives ahead of the Spring Racing carnival.

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.

Last year's Melbourne Cup carnival was held without spectators at the usually packed Flemington Racecourse.

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