Isolated Victorian jockeys facing weighty issue
VICTORIA'S top jockeys will continue to be segregated until further notice to limit any risk of a COVID-19 positive within riding ranks.
Talk of any relaxation for the protected "Green team" jockeys, who only recently started riding track work again, has been put on the backburner as Victoria fights a new spike in coronavirus cases.
Victorian Jockeys' Association boss Matt Hyland said the race day separation must stay in place.
"We haven't had a case in our industry and that's been a huge result," Hyland said.
"We need to make sure, as we come out the other end … don't just automatically say it's all in again and it brings us undone.
"You look at how quickly it crept into the AFL … once it gets into the sport you got to go into damage control, trying to work out how you can work around it."
Back in March, Racing Victoria invited jockeys to be part of "Green" and "Gold" teams to mitigate the risk of infection.
The protected Green jockeys, including Damien Oliver and Craig Williams, had to abide by rigid work and lifestyle restrictions.
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Meanwhile, the VJA will continue to lobby for the minimum weight scale to be lifted by 1kg, with the Australian Trainers' Association poised to reject the proposal.
The minimum was raised from 54kg to 56kg during the pandemic to take the pressure off jockeys with limited access to gyms.
It led to leading jockeys including Mark Zahra and Ben Melham to push for a 55kg minimum post-COVID-19.
"That was always the case, we would need the support of the trainers' association," Hyland said.
"What we do know is the majority of our people want the minimum raised a kilo.
"What can we do? Can we look to certain periods of time throughout the year?
"We'll just keep the communication going … we won't roll over just like that."
In preparation for Sunday's meeting, the VJA surveyed about 150 members last week on the weight issue after an earlier poll, on May 27, was missed or ignored by some jockeys.
"It was a 60-40 result, what we got in the first survey with 50 per cent responses and we doubled the survey and got the identical result, which has been communicated to the jockeys," Hyland said.
"There was 18-20 members that didn't respond out of 150-odd surveyed.
"We got almost exactly the same result, 59.4 per cent (for 55kg) and last time it was 60.1 per cent."
WEIR CRUELTY CASE ADJOURNED TO SEPTEMBER - Leo Schlink
Darren Weir and three other men will return to court in September for a two-day committal over alleged animal cruelty, betting and conspiracy charges.
Weir, Jarrod McLean, Tyson Kermond and William Hernan will face Ballarat Magistrates Court on September 8-9 on more than 30 charges.
The matter returned to court on Monday but was adjourned until the spring because of delays and logistic challenges caused by COVID-19.
Weir is charged with 10 offences, including conspiring with McLean and Kermond to defraud Racing Victoria stewards between October 24 and November 17, 2018, and six counts of animal cruelty relating to horses Yogi, Red Cardinal and Tosen Basil on October 30, 2018, at Warrnambool.
It is alleged the horses were tortured, abused, overworked and terrified when jiggers, or conducted energy devices, were used to shock them while they ran on a treadmill wearing blinkers, causing unreasonable pain or suffering.
Weir is also facing two counts of being a prohibited person to possess a firearm.
McLean is facing 16 counts, including conspiracy to defraud stewards, animal cruelty, two of conduct that corrupted a betting outcome, six of using corrupt conduct information and possessing cocaine.
McLean allegedly placed a $100 each-way bet on Red Cardinal on Cup Day in 2018, which could have reaped $5200.
Kermond is charged with seven offences, including a conspiracy to defraud stewards, and six of animal cruelty.
Hernan has been charged with betting-related offences.
Weir is currently serving a four-year disqualification for possession of three electronic apparatuses.
Originally published as Weighty issue for isolated Victorian jockeys