Fradd ban is slashed in half by stewards

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2006, 12:00am

The stewards of the Hong Kong Jockey Club yesterday dismissed Robbie Fradd's appeal against the ban he received for his ride on Healthy Fruits at Happy Valley earlier this month but slashed his penalty by almost half.

The decision was a face-saving bet each way over a controversial decision by the stipendiary stewards to suspend Fradd two weeks ago over an error of judgment.

The rider's decision to come off the rail in the home straight on Healthy Fruits ultimately saw the gelding finish a narrow second to Golden Stride at Happy Valley on May 10 instead of being the winner of the Kwu Tong Handicap.

Fradd received an 11-meeting penalty at that time, which was cut yesterday to six meetings, though the appeal panel, comprising Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli with stewards Simon Ip Sik-on and Brian Stevenson, upheld the stipes' original guilty finding.

Fradd was charged under Hong Kong rule of racing 99 (2), dealing with his having taken all 'reasonable and permissible measures throughout that race' to ensure that Healthy Fruits was given his 'full opportunity to win or to obtain the best possible placing in the field'.

Fradd said he was happy to have had his penalty reduced and his deposit refunded - both signs from the appeals panel that the South African had legitimate grounds for his objection to the original finding - but he would have been more satisfied to have the charge erased from his riding record.

'I would have preferred not to be penalised at all for what was an honest mistake,' Fradd said.

'I told them it was disappointing to have a charge like this on my record at all because people do look at it and they think you did something crooked. But it was important to me that the appeal panel made it very clear they did not believe there was anything wrong with my ride in that sense and they said that nobody was accusing me of stopping the horse from winning.'

Fradd represented himself at the appeal and presented evidence of some previous judgments under the same rule, in which the point had been made by the appeal bodies that such rules as 99 (2) were not intended to punish everyday navigational errors by jockeys.

'I put it to the panel that if the stewards began to penalise the riders for simple, honest mistakes like mine, then we would need a long list of standby jockeys to call on because we'd all be getting suspended all the time,' Fradd said.

The revised penalty will take effect this coming Monday (May 29) and will keep Fradd on the sidelines until June 29, allowing him to ride at the season finale at Sha Tin on July 2.