Gold Coast shenanigans bring whiff of nostalgia

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2011, 12:00am


It makes you long for the old days when the game was touched by a whiff of scandal and colour instead of the staid business-is-business sense it gives off now, but it has been the turn of Australia's Gold Coast to pull on the crazy hat in recent days.

Late last week, not only did we see a rider so desperate to win a race at the Gold Coast that he stole the whip of another jockey in the last 100 metres but we had another experienced rider launching legal action against the makers of a slimming product after he weighed in light.

Brazilian Wanderson D'Avila, who rode for several years in England before moving to Queensland, was suspended for a month after winning a race at the Gold Coast in February, then came back 0.8kg under weight, leading to his disqualification.

D'Avila filed his action last week, claiming A$12,500 (HK$102,363) and loss of reputation after he had seen an advertisement for a slimming product claiming to spray away hunger. He bought the product, which is sprayed on the tongue, and found it stopped him feeling hungry when he was fasting to ride.

On the day in question, he admits he used the spray more often than recommended - obviously confident it wouldn't swab - then weighed in light for the first time in his 20-year career. Of course, there is the question of how much weight he could have lost between the pre-race weigh out and the post-race weigh in, but we're sure the court will hear all about that.

There has been no word from the company which makes the product, which has been publicly offering jockeys free trials.

Meanwhile, last Friday at the Coast, experienced top-grade jockey Shane Scriven's motives could not have been questioned over the last 100m of a minor event.

Frustrated by the horse inside him, ridden by Ben Looker, laying out and hampering his whip action in a desperate four-horse finish, Scriven had had enough when his whip was knocked out of his hand. He reached out and snatched the shillelagh out of a surprised Looker's hand and gave his own mount several strong strikes with it - enough to get past Looker's horse but not enough to hold off a late finisher that beat him on the line.

Scriven might (or maybe not) have possibly escaped the kind of attention the incident has generated since, except for passing the whip back to Looker a few seconds after the post in a move that was clearly visible on telecasts. Stewards have yet to reconvene their inquiry.