Jockey Joshua Jones, left, and trainer Stephen Lee.
Jockey Joshua Jones, left, and trainer Stephen Lee.

Ballina jockey has shown remorse, says Lee

By ADAM HICKS sport@northernstar.com.au THE career of apprentice jockey Joshua Jones took a savage blow yesterday when a Sydney newspaper launched an attack on the 16-year-old ahead of his appeal against being solely blamed for the race fall that killed jockey Daniel Baker.

Jones’ master, Ballina trainer Stephen Lee, said the appeal had been prejudiced by suggestions that Jones had shown no remorse over his part in the accident.

“We have a legal person looking at it. Personally, today (the article) has changed my whole outlook on the appeal,” he said.

“The remarks and comments in the paper are suggesting Joshua has no remorse.

“The reason we were appealing was the percentage of guilt, not the guilt itself. We were never contesting the sentence or the severity of it.”

Jones was the only rider charged over the accident at Grafton on December 2 where Baker, aboard Hotshot Hayil, was badly crowded, became unbalanced and fell.

Jones was suspended for three months for careless riding for shifting in around the 200m.

No date has been set for the appeal, but Jones’ legal representative is examining material from the stewards’ inquiry in January that found him solely responsible for the fall.

Working in Sydney with the Anthony Cummings stable last week, Jones, 16, spoke to the reporter who wrote: “Jones did not attend Baker’s funeral. Some wonder if he has shown any remorse. He speaks softly and without any real depth when the subject steers towards the Grafton tragedy.”

Lee rejected the claims and said Jones should have turned away the reporter.

“He was in a vulnerable position alone in a stall at Randwick,” Lee said. “Josh and I were advised not to attend the funeral of Daniel Baker, due to the growing dissent towards Joshua.

The article says that Josh said it was tough for the first few days; Joshua has said to me it’s going to be tough for him to even come back.

“He obviously thought he was going to get some good publicity in this paper. More than 95 per cent of his publicity has been positive.

“It’s like handing a puppy a bone; the other day they handed him one full of poison.”

Despite being based in Newcastle, jockey Alan Robinson blasted Jones, saying he had a bad attitude.

“I’ve never seen a jockey get into so many arguments with other jockeys after a race,” Robinson was reported as saying.

However Robinson, who has racked up 100 suspensions in his controversial career, refused to comment when contacted by The Nothern Star.

But 10-times Northern Rivers premiership jockey Darron Coleman, of Ballina, who was beaten in the premiership race by Jones last season, said Josh was a good kid.

“I haven’t seen him (arguing with other jockeys),” Coleman said.

“He’s pretty cool-headed. He’s never been a cocky person to me. He always seemed to be a pretty sensible kid; quiet, always polite and well mannered.

“When you say something to him he always seemed to sit down and listen to you.”

However, Coleman said Jones still needed to work on his technique.

“I tell every apprentice: You have to keep your horse straight. As soon as it starts shifting you have to stop riding,” Coleman said.

“Josh is a friend of mine. But there’s a lot of young riders out there and they come through the ranks so quickly, and get a lot more opportunity than when I was an apprentice.

“There is a lot more pressure on them; maybe the stewards need to be harder on them. He’s copped that many suspensions he really should have learned from that.”

Nine out of 10 of Jones’ suspensions in his 18-month career have come from shifting in or out on other riders. Lee said he spoke to Jones about shifting ‘all the time’.

“Joshua will listen to advice, but he won’t only listen he will respond to it,” Lee said.

“But unfortunately his shifting in races has been a continual problem which we’ve been addressing.

“That’s his problem, he says to me I didn’t feel the horse shifting at all. “That’s obviously what’s happening.”

Victorian racing stewards have clamped down on apprentice jockey Dean Holland, 18, forbidding him from accepting rides until he attends an apprentices’ riding skills panel.

The order came after Holland caused his own fall at the weekend, two days after receiving his eighth suspension in 11 months.

Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy said the idea of a riding skills panel had been copied from New South Wales.

Murrihy said Jones had twice been referred to the riding skills panel and that stewards could not be held responsible for failing to correct Jones’ errors.

“Just because he gets expert tuition, doesn’t mean there is a guarantee he will never offend again,” Murrihy said.

“There is no guarantee with anyone that a person sent for remedial training is going to have a spotless record afterwards.”

Reading from the rules of racing, Murrihy said: “A rider may be referred at any time by the stewards to the panel, for mentoring or such remedial training as they see fit.

The stewards may punish any apprentice referred who fails or refuses to attend, or refuses to apply with or fulfil any direction of the panel.

“They may suspend or limit in any way the permission to ride in races if they find any aspect of any apprentice rider’s technique or method, may be a hazard to the rider or other riders.”

When asked if stewards should have stepped in before Daniel Baker’s accident, Murrihy said he could not comment until Jones’ appeal had been heard.



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