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« 2021-Sep-22, 08:35 PM Reply #75 »
Airbnb jockeys: Melham, Brown guilty of misleading stewards

By Gilbert Gardiner
02:38pm • 22 September 2021
BANNED jockeys Ben Melham and Ethan Brown will donate 20 per cent of all prizemoney earnings to charity for three months upon their return to race riding.

Counsel acting for Melham and Brown revealed the “act of decency” after the jockeys were found guilty by the Victorian Racing Tribunal for lying to stewards during the Mornington Airbnb probe.

Melham, a father of three, has elected to share the donation between the Red Cross (Covid relief) and Royal Childrens’ Hospital, while Brown‘s money will be paid to Unicef’s Covid-19 Appeal.

The “no strings attached” make good offered to Racing Victoria prior to Wednesday’s hearing will stand regardless of any penalty the tribunal sees fit to impose.

Melham’s barrister Matthew Stirling conceded his client “is at the crossroads of his career”, with the Group 1 jockey having only recently returned from a five-month disqualification.

“He had the issue with the betting charges which he resolved… and was riding exceptionally well and then he’s breached again under these Covid rules,” Stirling said.

“For Melham to sit back over the last three or four weeks… take the bit between his mouth and say I’ve done the wrong thing by the industry and for that matter done the wrong thing by Victoria.

“Take on board that burden of contributing 20 per cent of prizemoney, the greater part of a jockeys’ income of course, that’s no mean feat for somebody who earns money at the level that he does.”

Jockeys are entitled to five per cent of all prizemoney won by their mounts.

Melham’s status and ties to leading stables could see him earn a hefty six-figure salary inside three months.

The charge stems from Melham and Brown not being forthcoming at the earliest opportunity about Mark Zahra having attended the gathering.

The tribunal indicated Melham’s priors, including a period of disqualification for misleading stewards during the betting probe, which was finalised last December, would be taken into account on the penalty.

Melham and Brown earlier on Wednesday abandoned their appeal on the severity of three-month bans for the August 25 Covid breach.

Stirling pleaded for leniency on Brown’s behalf also, citing the 22-year-old’s relative inexperience and mental health challenges.

Brown, who moved to Melbourne from Alice Springs as a 16-year-old to become a jockey, has struggled in the past with homesickness and weight management.

The tribunal heard Brown, who resumed race riding in July after a fourth-month break, regularly accessed RV’s counselling service.

“Given the particular challenges… little utility, we would say to be gained by punishing (Brown) to any greater extent than two weeks’ serving of the suspension… similar to (Celine) Gaudray),” Stirling said.

Apprentice Gaudray was the first of five jockeys implicated in the Airbnb gathering to face the tribunal.

The rising star received an eight week ban for giving false and/or misleading evidence to stewards, of which six weeks would be suspended for two years.

Kah got the full eight weeks, on account of contesting the charge, while Zahra escaped with four of the eight weeks to be served, with the remainder suspended for two years.

Despite best intentions to wrap up proceedings on Wednesday the tribunal ultimately ran out of time.

Submissions will be finalised next week in writing, with a decision handed down “as quickly as possible” thereafter.

ENDS

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« 2021-Oct-06, 07:24 PM Reply #76 »
Big surprise that the usually super efficient VRT hasn't reached a decision on the appropriate penalty for Ben Melham and Ethan Brown both guilty of breaching AR 232 giving false and or misleading evidence to stewards over the Airbnb fiasco.

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« 2021-Oct-08, 09:06 AM Reply #77 »
Ben Melham, Racing Victoria Hearing, 22 September 2021 (DOCX 180.77 KB)

Ethan Brown, Racing Victoria Hearing, 22 September 2021 (DOCX 179.81 KB)

Melham gets another 3 months Brown another 8 weeks


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« 2021-Nov-17, 09:11 PM Reply #78 »
Updating the link to the VRT site several more decisions published.

https://djpr.vic.gov.au/victorian-racing-tribunal/decisions-and-reasons

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