Ben Melham slams Racing Victoria treatment of jockeys after partner Jamie Kah and other horror falls
Top jockey Ben Melham has launched a damning spray at Racing Victoria, claiming their focus on ‘turnover and earnings’ is at the expense of people’s lives after Saturday’s meeting was the third sickening fall in two weeks.
The 18-time Group One winner, whose partner – the glamorous superstar Jamie Kah – was taken to hospital in critical condition after a horror incident in Flemington last weekend, is clearly tired of seeing his fellow riders fight for their lives. on match day.
It comes after Teo Nugent was left with a fractured C1 vertebra and his mount Florescent Star had to be euthanized after being involved in a nasty fall on All Star Mile day at Mooney Valley on Saturday.
It means jockeys have been rushed to hospital after falling in the race at the last three Saturday meetings in Victoria.
It started with Ethan Brown suffering internal injuries after a fall in the Group 1 Australian Guineas at Flemington on March 4, before Kah and Craig Williams were rushed to hospital after the horrific fall in the Sires Produce Stakes last weekend.
Ben Melham has criticized Racing Victoria after his partner Jamie Kah (pictured) was one of four high-profile jockeys rushed to hospital after a sickening race fall in just two weeks
Kah and Melham are one of the biggest and most glamorous power couples in racing
Kah’s head injury was so severe (although she’s free of brain hemorrhages and fractures, she remains hospitalized, after Melham said she had to be “severely sedated to rest her brain” after the accident.
Williams’ list of injuries is also significant, with a broken collarbone, broken ribs, broken finger and concussion as a result of the fall.
After seeing Nugent become the fourth high-profile injury victim of a race in just two weeks, Melham had clearly had enough.
The elephant in the room needs to be addressed. Victorian workload on race participants way too high,” he wrote on social media.
‘Turnover and income are important, but not at the expense of human lives. Fatigue kills!
“Hopefully three near-death experiences in three weeks will be enough.”
Jamie Kah (right, photographed last year at Royal Ascot in the UK) is still recovering from a nasty fall last weekend
Kah was rushed to hospital after the nauseating fall, which left her with a severe concussion. The superstar jockey is still in hospital treating the effects
Ethan Brown is comforted by his partner in hospital after a horrific fall left him internally injured on March 4
He then went on to explain exactly why he believes jockeys are at risk, revealing that a relentless schedule leaves riders prone to fatigue, which can lead to errors with horror consequences.
“Racing requires mental clarity for split-second decisions,” he said.
“We ride Wednesday dusk, Thursday night, Friday night. (There is) track work and tests four to five days a week.
“Racing (is) 24/7 365 days a year. It’s not sustainable. If meetings aren’t scheduled, people just can’t go.’
There will be a total of 10 race meetings in Victoria next week, as well as the regular trials and track work, while NSW will host 16 meetings.
A number of fans and high-profile racing identities indicated they believed Melham had hit the nail on the head.
“The suits at Racing Victoria have (no worries) in programming wall-to-wall races with no personal risk to them. Ditto gambling companies. With heads they win (they are paid very well), but with tails the contestants lose,” wrote the outspoken expert Ralph Horowitz.
Ben Melham has hit Racing Victoria for the treatment of race participants, accusing them of putting profit before safety
Race identity Tim Thwaites said the problem would only get worse.
“Is there too much racing? Yes we do, we don’t need two meetings from Monday to Friday. I was a baker for 14 years and got up at 2 a.m., etc. Fatigue is real and dangerous, but riding ‘some’ jocks also needs to be addressed,” he said.
“Besides…Caulfield (has a) second track coming up, they want night races, (and) Cranbourne want Saturday night races.
“You also have a Racing Victoria director saying ‘we won’t move the Cox plate until the next betting deal is done’ #toomuch.”
‘Could totally agree with Ben Melham here! Been saying this for weeks! Trainers can’t even get staff, jockeys are expected to wake up at 3am and ride late into evening meetings! All for the gambling money that Racing Victoria takes. Enough is enough,” said prominent tipster Bucks Bets.
He also found some support from trainer Kristen Buchanan.
“Could they (Racing Victoria) hold the meetings but limit the number of riders? That way there is plenty of supply but not spreading riders too thin also gives a fairer distribution of income among rider ranks,” she said.
That said, some also disagreed with his strong take on the issue.
Especially in the wake of Australia’s top jockey, James McDonald, being suspended for careless driving so he could ride on Golden Slipper day.
James McDonald after winning the George Ryder aboard Anamoe on Saturday. The top jockey was only able to ride after his suspension was reduced
Jamie Kah, a nine-time Group 1 winner, is still in hospital following her shocking fall alongside Craig Williams last Saturday
Ironically he was suspended yesterday and will miss Saturday’s Tancred Stakes meeting following his careless drive in the Group 3 Epona Stakes.
“No Ben, (the) elephant in (the) room is that some jockeys get away with blue kill every meeting, (and) if they get banned, stewards watch race meetings coming up and ban accordingly. JMac (James McDonald) the example, got to ride on Slipper day and didn’t learn, reloaded,” one fed up fan wrote.
I’m not the ultimate Melham cop who blames these falls on fatigue. It’s no coincidence that the crashes happened in big prize money races, with jocks going for holes that weren’t there. The driving has been reckless,” wrote another.
‘Sorry, what? Victorian jocks currently ride like absolute cowboys. Racing too close together, racing on heels, sticking horse heads in holes that aren’t there, pushing out when there’s no room and making the consequences someone else’s problem. Very common, take this,’ said another furious gambler.
Racing this week will be centered around Australian Cup day at Flemington and the Tancred Stakes meeting at Rosehill.