In-form Devonport-based apprentice Chris Graham will miss the meeting at Spreyton on Sunday – and two other key engagements – after losing an appeal this week.
Graham was suspended for two meetings for careless riding on Harvey Bay in Hobart on April 23 but took his case to the Racing Appeal Board.
The board reserved its decision and it wasn’t until Wednesday that Graham was notified the appeal had been dismissed.
To compound his problems, he had an invitation to ride in five races at Cairns on Tuesday
By that stage, he had accepted rides at Pakenham on Friday, Spreyton on Sunday and Cairns next Tuesday.
The Appeal Board has no power to hold over penalties once it has made its decision so the suspension had to come into play immediately and doesn’t end until midnight on Sunday week.
Graham’s master Adam Trinder said the penalty couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“Chris was going to ride Neilson for us at Pakenham on Friday and we had to find a replacement apprentice (Jessica Eaton),” Trinder said.
“Then he had a good book of rides on Sunday and, with a shortage of jockeys in Tasmania, I might end up having to bring in a replacement from the mainland.
“To compound his problems, he had an invitation to ride in five races at Cairns on Tuesday and had booked his flights but now he can’t go there, either.”
Trainer Graeme McCulloch, who had Graham booked to ride Time Commands at Spreyton, said he shared Trinder’s frustration.
“It’s taken the Appeal Board six weeks to hand down a decision so why it had to hand it down on a Wednesday after acceptances had already been taken for the weekend I do not know,” McCulloch said.
“Fair enough that the jockey has to serve his penalty but the timing of the announcement has penalised owners and trainers as well.”
Graham was to have ridden the Trinder-trained Steel Moon in Sunday’s Benchmark 82 Handicap, easily the best race on the program.
“It’s up in the air at the moment,” the trainer said. “I just don’t think there is any other rider available, senior or apprentice, so I might have to bring one in.
“The horse is in good order and returns to his preferred distance (1150m).
“He ran well over 1350m last start but that’s a bit of a stretch for him.”