Rocky jockey ordered disqualification for COVID-19 breach

A Rockhampton jockey has had her QCAT appeal denied after she was disqualified for breaching a COVID-19 direction.

Zoe White was charged with breaching Rule 232(b) of the Australian Rules of Racing by failing to comply with the Stewards direction. This direction was in relation to COVID-19 restrictions where apprentice jockeys were to remain and ride in the declared zone of their master.

The QCAT documents detail when COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency, Racing Queensland ordered that from March 29 jockeys were only permitted to race in one of the five designated regions.

This was to restrict travel and to protect people within the industry.

The policy was that apprentice jockeys were designated to the zone of the registered employer or master.

At the time, Ms White had six weeks until she completed her apprenticeship and her master was located in Ipswich, to which she was designated to the Metro South West Zone.

According to the documents, Ms White rode trackwork at Rockhampton on March 30 and so she was asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and was taken off her riding engagement at Mackay on March 31.

Ms White then did track work at Rockhampton on April 1, which failed to comply with the self-quarantine direction that was issued to her on March 30.

The Racing Queensland Stewards’ panel determined Ms White should be disqualified for a period of six months. Ms White applied for an internal review of this decision and it was amended to a three-month disqualification.

Ms White then applied to QCAT for a review of this three-month disqualification.

In the application to QCAT, Ms White sought the disqualification to be shortened to five weeks of which she had already served from April to May and was put on hold due to the pending QCAT outcome.

Ms White entered a guilty plea in her submission to QCAT and her lawyer argued she did not expose anyone to a risk of COVID-19 as she stayed in Rockhampton.

It is also noted this was her first breach of a rule.

In the QCAT documents, another case is referenced of a jockey in New South Wales who ‘embraced’ a stablehand after a win and was fined $2,000 and the stablehand $500.

Reviewing the decision, Member Barbara Kent stated “the fact no dire consequences flowed from the applicants failure to self-quarantine is more a matter of good luck than any responsible behaviour on the part of the applicant”.

“I am not unsympathetic to the situation the applicant found herself in. However her personal circumstances are no excuse for her failing to comply with the steward’s direction,” she went on to say.

“In coming to a decision about the appropriate penalty I must consider specific deterrence to Ms White, general deterrence to the wider community of licensees and the need to uphold the good name and integrity of the industry.

“It is essential that directions that related to matters of public health such as COVID-19 pandemic must be complied with to the letter.

“It was not Ms White’s or any other licensee’s position to second guess these directions and make their own decisions about what was required for the safety of themselves, the industry and the wider community.”

It was ordered that Ms White continued to be disqualified for the remaining seven weeks of the three months disqualification, which would be due to finish on January 26.

Furthermore, Ms White was ordered to only enter racecourses and training facilities for the purpose of training, therefore no racing, during this period.

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