|Victorian stewards have
banned leading apprentice Rhys McLeod for two months after an embarassing mishap, which
left him the laughing stock late last night at Moonee Valley.
McLeod, an 18-year-old apprentice indentured to Pat Carey, misjudged
the distance of last night's Qantas Frequent Flyer Handicap over 3000 metres.
The youngster, riding the 25/1 outsider Mystic Outlaw for
James Sheppard, rode out that five-year-old on the first of two laps of the track.
After what became a marathon inquiry which didn't end until
after midnight, McLeod was handed what appeared to be a hefty two month penalty.
It is the second time this month that a jockey in Victoria
has misjudged the distance of a race and "gone" a lap early.
The experienced jockey Wayne Hokai was given a six week
suspension after doing likewise at Hanging Rock on New Year's Day.
McLeod who appeared shocked at the hefty suspension will
lodge an appeal.
At one stage during the inquiry Carey was heard telling
stewards it was "way too late" to keep the apprentice up as the time came close
The young apprentice said he had been up working since 4.30am
and he looked both emotionally and physically strained while waiting for the stewards
verdict in the scales area at Moonee Valley.
The trainer of Mystic Outlaw James Sheppard said the incident
was "disappointing most for Rhys" and not his roughie.
"My horse wouldn't have won the race anyway. He's a
pretty ordinary galloper," Sheppard said.
"Look, everyone makes mistakes - we all do it, and I
feel for Rhys."
"These things happen," Sheppard added.
An 18-year-old Rhys McLeod is currently Victoria's leading
apprentice rider after just over a year in the saddle.
Already a stakes winner, he is best remembered for coming
close to scoring an upset win aboard Celestial Show in last year's Caulfield Cup behind
Ethereal and Sky Heights.