Leading jockeys Damien Oliver and Nash Rawiller will both miss the Cox Plate meeting at Moonee Valley next Saturday after being suspended in separate incidents on a dramatic day of racing yesterday.
Oliver was set to ride Fiorente in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), replacing Rawiller on the Melbourne Cup favourite, but has been suspended for twelve meetings; with Racing Victoria stewards ruling that he caused a high level of interference to Godspiel while riding Zonza to victory in the Group 3 Snowhite Maintenance Classic (1600m) at Caulfield yesterday.
Racing Victoria Chief Steward Terry Bailey rejected Oliver’s defense that he thought he had cleared the field and said that Oliver’s poor record added to the severity of the punishment.
“Obviously, we have given this a great deal of thought,” Bailey said in the stewards’ room.
“We appreciate it’s a big time for everyone involved, but we believe the degree of carelessness is in the high range.”
Oliver will ride imported stayer Jet Away in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday but will now miss out on rides in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m), Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) and Listed Bendigo Cup (2200m) as well as the plumb ride on Fiorente in the Cox Plate.
Rawiller would have been in the mix to regain the ride on Fiorente, after he was controversially replaced by connections following the Monsun entires’ fourth place finish in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), but instead will be joining Oliver on the sidelines.
Racing New South Wales stewards charged Rawiller with careless riding for his ride on Hold Me Closer in the Warwick Farm Handicap (1300m) yesterday and failed to accept Rawiller’s plea for a substantial fine rather than a suspension; rubbing the in-form jockey out for six meetings.
“We are guided by the careless riding template therefore it is not possible,” acting Chief Steward Ray Livingston said.
“The template is there for consistency and there is not an opportunity for stewards to substitute meetings for a fine.”
Gai Waterhouse is yet to make a decision on who will replace Oliver on Fiorente in the Cox Plate but is expected to make an announcement this afternoon, with rising jockey Tommy Berry the favourite to pick up the ride, while Oliver remains confident that he will ride Fiorente in ‘the race that stops a nation’.