Letting jockeys bet would invite trouble
Well, we are all about rules this week. And the other aspect that is breeding column inches like mushrooms after rain, in Australia at least, is about jockeys betting. Yes, with their own money, unlike the Hong Kong model.
Last Friday, two of Sydney's top riders, Peter Robl and the 2008 Melbourne Cup winner Blake Shinn, received disqualifications of a year and 15 months respectively over betting on races. On Monday, it was Queensland's Lyle Finlay who was caught betting and fined A$1,000 for that, as well as banned for three months over giving misleading evidence.
Tomorrow, the Gold Coast's leading jockey, Daniel Griffin, will be the subject of a betting inquiry. One view that is getting an airing there is that rules should be altered to allow jockeys to bet, on their own horse and in a monitored account, since plenty of jockeys do bet anyway. Some wags even suggest jockeys should be required to bet their own cash on every mount to ensure their proper focus.
As far as we can see, jockeys betting legally heads down the same path as allowing pacemakers - legitimising an illegality but only under certain conditions. Policing and punishing genuine breaches of the rules then becomes all the more difficult because it pushes every potential offence into ever greyer areas.