A Weighty Question of Rules, Responsibilities, Integrity and Gross Neglect


Under the rule of racing AR.190 a jockey is permitted to ride up to 0.5kg overweight, but must seek the Stewards permission to have their mount carry any more.

The local rules provide that the Stewards may allow jockeys at metropolitan and provincial meetings to carry another extra half a kilo on of that – a total of up to a full kilo over the allocated weight – provided and the owners and/or trainer of a horse agree.

Due to rider shortages in the bush, country jockeys may, in circumstances where there is no-one else available to ride a horse, be permitted to carry up to 2 kilograms over, but this provision strictly applies to country meetings.

On top of all this, in a measure aimed at preventing jockeys from having to unduly waste to make the weight in the midst of the highly dangerous pandemic, Racing Queensland have temporarily raised the minimum weight scale by a full kilogram across the board.

All of these rules and measures should mean that – with the exception of bush meeting -jockeys aren’t riding overweight, or begging the Stipes for permission to allow them too.

It should also mean that no horse carries more than a kilogram over its allocated weight (which really means 1.6kg, given that jocks also get an additional kilo overweight allowance to compensate for wearing a safety vest, that actually weighs only 400 grams); and that the Stipes should be refusing all requests to weigh-out higher, and taking a hard line by fining riders who have the impertinence to ask.

The rules of racing aren’t made to be broken, and if the are to be obeyed they must be enforced, consistently and across the board.

For this to happen, it might help if the Stewards actually knew them. The rules that is.

Based on their official report, I have grave doubts about whether the Stipes who officiated at yesterday’s TAB provincial Dalby meeting do.

What other reason could there be for these integrity officials allowing jockey Natalie Morton to ride Aklavic at 1.5 over in the fourth race, or for them to cite the rule about availability of riders that applies strictly to non-TAB country meetings as the justification for their decision, when under the real rule that applies, if connections couldn’t find a lighter jockey to ride it,  the horse should have simply been late scratched.

Stewards permitted jockey N. Morton to ride the gelding 1.5kg over its allotted weight when no other rider was available. Jockey N. Morton was fined $100 for being overweight.

It doesn’t make any sense to me, but then again a few things that happened in the Stewards room at Dalby yesterday don’t either, and one of them involved jockey N. Morton too.

Morton rode the 4th placed horse Dinny’s a Suspect in race three, but for some mysterious reason she neglected/avoided/forgot (choose one) to weigh in after the race, which means that no-one has any way of knowing whether the horse carried it full weight, or less, or more.

The weight scale and handicaps are the bedrock of the modern day sport of racing, and have been for hundreds of years. Weights are the means by which horses are comparatively assessed, and handicaps underpin the whole deal. If officials can’t ensure that all horses competing in a race carry their full weight, then the whole system falls to pieces, and we might as well turn out the lights and shut the doors.

There are no hades of grey about this issue, it’s black and white.

A jockey must weight out before the race, and if they run a place – and a place includes 4th – then they must weigh back in too. If they don’t, and there are no exceptional circumstances that excuse the rider’s failure, their horse gets disqualified. No discussion or argument, full stop.


Race 3 at Dalby was a First 4 race, meaning that tens of thousands of dollars were invested on it across the country, and perhaps even more across the world. Ensuring that the 4th horse carried its full weight and no less was absolutely imperative to determining the result of that betting type, and to allocating the prize money pool.

When Natalie Morton failed to turn up at the weigh-in room after the race to step on to the scales, Dinny’s a Suspect should have been disqualified. It’s as simple as that.

It wasn’t disqualified.

The correct weight signal was sounded, even though the Steward’s had no idea whether Morton’s mount had carried its correct weight at all.

Morton was fined $300 for her failure, which means that there couldn’t have been any exceptional circumstances, otherwise she wouldn’t have been stung with the ticket at all.

DINNY’S A SUSPECT – Raced 3 wide without cover throughout. Jockey N. Morton was fined $300 under AR. 208(2)(a) for failing to weigh in. In determining penalty, Stewards were mindful that jockey Morton has not previously breached this rule.  

This is just not on.

It’s wildly unacceptable, and just renders the whole integrity management in system as a farce and a joke.

I guess it’s a pretty fair description, for a joke is what the whole thing is.

It’s just not real funny.

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