THE claim by controversial Melbourne Herald Sun racing scribe, Matt Stewart, that top jockey Kerrin McEvoy has been a ‘whipping boy’ for the Sydney racing media, spearheaded by Ken and Richard Callander, has prompted plenty of support to this web-site.
Letsgohorseracing has received a surprising number of e-mails supporting the Stewart story with some going as far as even suggesting the Sydney media criticism of McEvoy forced the hand of stewards when they recently suspended him for a month on a riding charge.Some of the e-mails supporting McEvoy even suggest that there are those in the racing media in Sydney who are pushing to have him replaced on the Darley horses by jockeys that they are friendly with.
One irate e-mail writer even took a sledge hammer to Sydney Telegraph columnist Ken Callander suggesting that he was ‘conspicuous by his silence’ when it came to criticism of recent bad rides by Jim Cassidy because of the close friendship between the jockey and Callander’s son, Richard.
The writer highlighted the fact that Richard Callander had praised the work done by Cassidy when a horse part-owned by his wife (Bellagio Wynn) scored a form reversal win at Rosehill recently. It was pointed out that Cassidy had no luck in the race on the well backed favorite Keepin’ the Dream, which ran sixth.
Sydney stewards have declined to comment on the Herald Sun article while Richard Callander said at the Randwick races today he would not dignify it with a response.
The story does provide interesting food for thought. It reads:
‘SINCE becoming Darley's trump Australian rider in July 2008, Kerrin McEvoy has been a whipping boy for Sydney's racing media, even its chief steward.
McEvoy admitted that adjusting to tight, turning Sydney racing after years riding the sweeping tracks of Europe had been difficult.
Sydney scribes, led by big-punting TVN host Richard Callender, rarely let up on the softly spoken McEvoy, who was suspended four times in two months in 2008, all for careless riding.
In early October that year chief steward Ray Murrihy hauled the eight-time European Group 1 winner into the stewards' room.
Was he doing any form? Mate, we're just trying to help you, but you're being eaten alive by your rival jockeys, Murrihy lectured.
McEvoy bit his lip.
Friday, surely, was the final straw for McEvoy, whose bit lip must now require reconstructive surgery.
Racing NSW stewards suspended him for a month, just before Sydney's famous Easter carnival, for his beaten ride on Shakes in a 1400m race at Randwick on March 18.
McEvoy was charged with breaching controversial Rule 135B, which in a nutshell says he did not give Shakes every possible chance.
Rule 135B was created about 20 years ago in part to ping jockeys who stewards suspected, but couldn't prove, had ridden one "dead".
Wide-sweeping and ambiguous, 135B also applied to jockey errors of judgment.
Rule 135B is an innuendo magnet. The gossipy exchanges in racing's online chatrooms since Friday have been: Did McEvoy hook Shakes? Why?
It does not require a degree in race-reading to assess McEvoy's ride.
He had Shakes perfectly placed in the "one-one" as the field approached the home turn. Jim Cassidy, who was tracking McEvoy on Mossamine, pulled out and rushed forward at the 600m because Mossamine was over-racing.
McEvoy had two split-second options: come out under Cassidy, or stay in.
He chose the latter, became hemmed in for most of the straight and ran third.
Callender, arms flapping and eyes rolling, went off his tree. Shortly after, stewards made a beeline for McEvoy.
In Monday's Daily Telegraph, Callender's dad Kenny described the ride as "terrible". At worst, McEvoy made a slight, everyday tactical blue; at best he made no blue at all because he was under no obligation to take off prematurely, just because Cassidy did.
One jockey, staggered by the McEvoy penalty, said: "So we make a mistake, and it's dubious whether Kerrin did anyway, and they give you a month. Is that what they're saying? If so, every jockey in Australia would be benched."
McEvoy's appeal won't be heard for weeks, a blessing because he can ride until it is, clearing him for Easter.
If the Racing NSW Appeals Panel is fair-minded, McEvoy will be quickly cleared, his reputation as a fair and competent rider restored.
The reputation of Sydney's stewards, flanked by influential TV tipsters, will be quite the opposite.