Zero level breath test for jockeys to be considered

Stewards will consider a zero tolerance to alcohol following the suspension of two jockeys at the Warrnambool three-day carnival.

Three-time Melbourne Cup winner Damien Oliver and jumps jockey Paul Hamblin were suspended after failing a breath test to alcohol after arriving on course on Thursday.

Oliver blew .038 on his first test, down to .035 15 minutes later, and was immediately stood day and later slapped with a 29 day ban, while Hamblin was given a one month suspension.

Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey said maybe now was the time to think about zero tolerance.

“It’s something that the stewards would consider but I would want to be confident that we had the equipment that doesn’t capture any innocent people,” Bailey told Melbourne radio station RSN.

“The police have the ability to take blood tests but we don’t have that at a racecourse.”

Bailey said when the .02 threshold was introduced by the Australian Racing Board it was not designed to catch innocent people who may be under medication or using a mouthwash containing alcohol.

He said the rule had been in since at least 2003 but stewards weren’t confident of the testing in the early days.

They began to enforce it in 2009.

“Back in 2007 we had high profile jockeys getting locked up,” Bailey said.

“It was getting out of hand a bit and that was the reason why we looked at it more seriously.”

Bailey said every jockey was tested on the second and third days of the carnival, something that had happened for the past five or six years.

Oliver says he accepts full responsibility for the offence which has cost him Group One rides in Adelaide on Saturday and upcoming feature rides in Brisbane.

“They’re the rules and you have to abide by them,” Oliver told RSN.

“The onus is on me to be there under that limit.

“I’m very embarrassed by my actions.”

Oliver said he thought the limit was fair.

“It’s a dangerous sport. I think it’s reasonable,” he said.

Oliver said he had gone out on Wednesday night but thought he had given himself sufficient time to re-hydrate ahead of Thursday’s final day where he was to have ridden the Gai Waterhouse-trained Cafe Society in the Warrnambool Cup.

Chris Parnham has picked up Oliver’s ride on Vezalay in the Sangster Stakes at Morphettville while Glen Boss is the likely rider for the John O’Shea-trained Asinara in the Australasian Oaks.


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