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McDonald Appeals Severity of Riding Ban
Jockey James McDonald appeared before the Racing NSW Appeals Panel yesterday seeking to have his 18-month ban for a betting offence reduced to between six and nine months. McDonald has not ridden since 15 November last year when he voluntarily stood himself down from all riding engagements for his involvement in a bet placed on top colt Astern in December 2015. The 24 year-old McDonald was charged under rule 83(d), which states that a jockey may not "bet or have any interest in a bet on any race, or contingency relating to Thoroughbred racing involving a race in which he is riding." Racing.com reports that McDonald's legal counsel argued that stewards should show their client some leniency because he was actually trying to win the race aboard Astern, and therefore his integrity was not compromised. They further argued that AR83(d) does not discern between a jockey that bets on their own horse or that of a rival, and that the former offence should not be treated as seriously. This was rejected by Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel who said under the rule there was no differentiation between the two scenarios as both raised issues about integrity. Stewards are expected to hand down their decision in the next seven days.