The day that marked his Group One breakthrough got even better for Australian jockey Jake Bayliss in the aftermath to Volpe Veloce’s Sistema Railway victory.
A messy final 100 metres, when Melody Belle and Volks Lightning both suffered significant interference, marred yesterday’s big Ellerslie sprint. It came as no surprise when Racing Integrity stewards charged Bayliss with careless riding for his part in the interference, but that had nothing on the surprise that greeted the counter decision by the Judicial Control Panel to dismiss the charge.
“Disappointing” is the one succinct word chosen by chief thoroughbred steward John Oatham to publicly describe his feelings over JCA panellists’ Noel McCutcheon and Adrian Dooley to let Bayliss off the hook.
Obviously they didn’t agree with the stewards’ opinion that Bayliss was entirely at fault. With 100 metres to run, from inside out Start Wondering, Melody Belle and Volks Lightning were vying for the lead and to their outside Volpe Veloce and Packing Eagle were looming large.
Head-on footage showed Start Wondering rolling out and dictating the line of Melody Belle into Volks Lightning, while shortly afterwards Volpe Veloce, under vigorous riding from Bayliss, began to roll inwards onto Volks Lightning, and particularly Melody Belle as the meat in the sandwich, were checked, finishing third and sixth respectively.
No siren sounded indicating an inquiry into the actual placings, but stewards went to work in viewing footage and then gathering evidence from the jockeys involved. It’s understood that Bayliss admitted to Volpe Veloce moving in “one horse width”, while stewards contended the inward movement was greater and that he was the jockey primarily at fault in costing Volks Lightning and Melody Belle better placings.
While escaping any careless riding penalty – which would have been considerable given the race’s status if he had been found guilty – Bayliss did not escape completely scot free. His exuberant whip flourish before the finish line cost him a fine of $500.
In a busy day for the Ellerslie stewards, suspensions were handed out to Opie Bosson, Johnathan Parkes and Jasmine Fawcett, and fines to Leith Innes and Chris Johnson.
Bosson received a seven-day suspension (January 3 to 12) for excessive whip use before the 100-metre mark on Eclipse Stakes runner Al Hasa. Under the same rule Parkes was penalised nine days on top of a $750 fine for his ride on Rich Mille winner Coldplay and will be out from January 7 to 19. Innes and Johnson were fined $500 and $300 respectively for excessive whip use rulings.
Fawcett will be sidelined until January 28 as the result of another careless riding suspension, this one costing her seven days to go with the previous suspension she begins today through to January 19.
At yesterday’s Hastings meeting, Manawatu apprentice Holly Andrew was suspended for eight days (January 7 to 17) over her whip use in the seventh race, having been warned earlier in the day over the same issue.