Jockeys stood down over drugs
JOCKEY Joshua Jones has continued to ride his luck, and once again he has been unsaddled.
Since beginning track work in 2005, the leading country apprentice has spent almost as much time suspended as he has competing.
His deplorable record took another whipping at Tweed River Jockey Club's meeting on Monday, when the 18-year-old Ballina product was suspended until further notice.
Mr Jones, and Grafton-based apprentice Adam Hyeronimus, 19, were stood down after admitting to the use of banned diuretics.
Tests were ordered by new Northern Rivers Racing Association chief steward Craig Pringle with the assistance of Racing NSW Deputy Chairman of Stewards Operations Marc Van Gestel and Racing NSW Racecourse Detective Bob Nicholson.
All 26 riders at the meeting were subjected to breathalyser tests which returned negative results.
However, when the troubled pair were named as two of the eight jockeys randomly selected for urine samples, they came clean about using the diuretics to control their weight.
“Diuretics come under the rules of racing as a banned substance,” Mr Pringle said. “On admittance to using banned substances, the procedure is that we stand the offenders down immediately.
“When the results come back from the lab (expected to be in the next fortnight) we will contact the riders and their masters and set a date for an inquiry.
“They were the only ones to put their hands up, and that will be taken into consideration when it comes to sentencing.”
A search of the all riders' gear and equipment in the jockeys' room was also undertaken, and an examination of all items in the room revealed no breaches of the rules of racing; nor did a sweep of 20 horse floats and transporters.
Most often steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs are the target of random drug testing among elite sportsmen, but in the land of the little men it is drugs designed to keep their weight down that are most prevalent.
“In years gone by diuretics were legal and many jockeys have used them,” Mr Pringle said.
“But they are now a banned substance, and from time to time we find a few positive swabs.”
In his first 18 months as an apprentice Mr Jones was issued nine careless riding suspensions and was deemed responsible by stewards for the fall that resulted in the death of fellow jockey Daniel Baker in Grafton in 2007.
It was a disappointing start to what shaped as a promising career for the teen prodigy.
Mr Jones was the seven-time champion boy rider at the Sydney Royal Easter Show before joining trainer Stephen Lee at Ballina in 2005, making his mark in the professional ranks almost immediately.
Having claimed his first victory in July 2006 aboard Thirtysixred at Lismore, he came out for the very next race and kicked home his second winner.
Mr Hyeronimus is also no stranger to controversy, having been at the centre of the storm that ultimately led to the sacking of Northern Rivers steward Tate Hudson earlier this month for associating with jockeys on a social level.