A top jockey has blamed a photographer for unsettling his horse during a high-stakes race. The photographer was positioned up a ladder quite far away from the action, however.
Ben Melham guided his horse, Griff, to a remarkable victory in the prestigious £1.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas race. However, his triumph was spoilt by a 10-day suspension due to alleged careless riding.
Officials at Caulfield Racecourse in Australia determined that Melham had failed to correct Griff when the frontrunner veered sharply to the right in the race’s final moments, drifting across the track.
As a consequence of this suspension, Melham will be unable to participate in two of Australia’s most prominent racing events – the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate meetings.
In an attempt to clear his name, Melham filed an appeal and presented photographic evidence featuring a photographer on a ladder near the racetrack’s infield. He circled this individual and labelled them as the “Culprit.” This evidence was presented during a hearing before the Victoria Racing Tribunal, as reported by Racing.
Melham’s representative, Matthew Stirling, argued, “It doesn’t matter who he is. If that horse took fright as it did and is running away from its perceived danger, Melham is effectively powerless.”
Despite this defence, the panel overseeing the hearing remained unconvinced. Chair John Bowman stated, “We are saying that we are not convinced that your horse was spooked by a photographer on a small step ladder about 20 to 30 metres before the finishing post and about 30 metres away from the track and on the inside.
“Certainly, the presence of such a person has the potential to cause problems, but we are not swayed that the presence of that person inside the track caused what occurred,” he continued.
Just an excuse
Certainly, any photographer in the inner race circle would have to have prior permission to be there. I imagine that they have probably shot from the same vantage point many times before without any issues. Some horses may get spooked easily by cameras, but not this one who tried to eat the photographer.
It does seem highly unlikely that a photographer so far away would spook a racehorse, especially as it seems as if he’s behind a billboard.
But what do I know?
[Via The Mirror]