Stipes push Dittman to edge

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 February, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 February, 1996, 12:00am

LEADING jockey Mick Dittman has been cleared of a charge of not riding Count Gaffa 'to the best of his ability' at Eagle Farm on January, but he claims the drama has pushed him closer to retirement, writes Graeme Kelly. 'There is no doubt that stewards have the right to inquire into the riding of any jockey,' says the 42-year-old Dittman, who has made several attempts to secure a contract to ride in Hong Kong.

'I always insisted that, in my case, the grounds were never strong enough for a charge to be laid against me and I am totally relieved that justice has been done.

'But I don't need this sort of stress any more and neither does my family. 'The charge against me was one of the most serious, which can be levelled at a jockey. I have been riding for 26 years now and never once have I been charged with anything worse than careless riding. 'While this case was bad enough for me there was a lot more stress on my wife Maureen. 'She had an operation on a brain tumour in April of 1992 and she's had a long illness, which has been very difficult for her.

'That is why I have begun to think about my retirement. 'I enjoy race riding, but I have to face reality and I doubt whether I have long left as a jockey. 'And, I can say that this case brought against me by the Queensland Principal Club stewards has certainly brought forward my plans of going into retirement.

'Maureen and I don't need this sort of thing in our lives.'