Luckless hoop cops betting penalty

RACING: Gifted, albeit controversial, Brisbane jockey Bobby El-lssa’s decision to back his own judgment and invest $150 in bets on two of his race mounts at Yeppoon last Tuesday could cost him many thousands of dollars in lost income.

Not only did the two horses – Two Bits, a $7 chance and Grand Mark a $8 pop, fail to win, but now El-lssa has to contend with a $500 fine and three concurrent terms of three-month suspension from riding in races. This was the outcome of an inquiry in Brisbane yesterday whereby El-lssa can complete riding engagements until next Wednesday after which his enforced holiday is due to begin.

El-lssa’s sorry saga started not long after he and five other Brisbane jockeys and two Queensland Racing Limited officials were collected at about 10.15am on Tuesday to be transported from Rockhampton Airport to Yeppoon’s Keppel Park racecourse.

En route to the races, the taxi stopped at the Glenmore Shopping Centre and El-lssa left the vehicle for a short period and here, unbeknownst to him at the time, is where his luck ran out.

Capricornia steward Garry Meek, who has a respected reputation in racing circles as a “blood hound”, was to work at the Keppel Park races later that day and he just happened to be in the vicinity for an unrelated reason. Recognising El-lssa, not surprisingly Meek followed the unsuspecting hoop into the Glenmore Tavern.

“Mr Meek saw Bobby El-lssa at the tavern’s TAB facilities,” chief QRL steward Wade Birch said yesterday.

On arrival at Yeppoon and after a report to superiors from Meek and the two maxi-taxied QRL officials, stewards swooped on El-lssa by searching his gear and looking for a betting slip.

“The search failed to find a betting slip and jockey El-lssa denied having a bet on the races. Stewards required El-Lssa to produce his wallet and he denied having a wallet. Later jockey El-lssa again denied betting,” Birch said.

A highly competitive jockey, El-lssa then completed his seven riding engagements at Yeppoon, which included a dead-heat win on Mands Band ($10.90 UNITAB win dividend) and a photo-finish second on Sir Echo ($9.60 the place).

Meanwhile, super-sleuth stewards were on a winner when they confirmed from the Glenmore Tavern TAB facility manager through its security camera footage that El-lssa had indeed placed a bet on two of his non-winning mounts.

At yesterday’s inquiry El-Lssa pleaded guilty to betting on races under Australian Rule of Racing 83 (c) and was fined $500.

El-lssa was subsequently found guilty by stewards of three breaches of AR175(GG) in making false statements and was suspended for a term of three months on each charge.

Late yesterday El-lssa said he had immediately lodged an appeal against his three terms of suspensions.

“I have already lodged the appeals and been granted a stay of proceedings. It is going to be very costly even with legal fees,” El-lssa said.

El-lssa is renowned for his good-natured sense of humour. However, it seemed ill-timed to ask him if he agreed with the well-worn racing axiom that “jockeys are the worst judges” when it comes to tips, or for that matter to seek his thoughts on the outcome of the Melbourne Cup.

However, it is a good bet that Bobby will do his form and instigate a forthright appeal.

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