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25/01/02 McLeod To Appeal Two Month Ban
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 to midnight.

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.

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