Career at crossroads
By ADAM HICKS
JOSHUA JONES' racing career is at crisis point.
Jones was yesterday given a three-month suspension, the 10th of his short career, for careless riding causing the fall that fatally injured Daniel Baker at Grafton Racecourse on December 2.
"Josh, you are an apprentice of some promise, but your career is at the crossroads," said Mid-North Coast vice chief steward, Craig Pringle.
Pringle's judgement of "some promise," is an understatement.
Last season, aged just 16, Jones became the first jockey in many years to win the Northern Rivers' senior premiership as a first-year apprentice.
He also claimed the apprentice premiership.
Before turning to the turf, Jones was a talented equestrian competitor winning medals at the Sydney and Brisbane Royal shows and he has since claimed more than 100 winners in less than 18 months of racing.
Even prominent Sydney trainer Anthony Cummings said he was a natural horseman.
But there's no doubt that Pringle's warning is spot on.
While the inquiry into Baker's fall was postponed to give his family time to grieve, Jones went on to receive a one-month suspension for causing a fall at Wyong weeks later.
And after he got involved in another minor riding incident at Sydney before the Wyong suspension kicked in, Jones was referred to the Riding Skills Panel.
The recommendations of that panel were delivered in person by Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy yesterday immediately after the steward's enquiry.
Murrihy echoed Pringle's warning and said Jones had to change the way he rode or risk losing his jockey's licence.
On the advice of the Riding Skills Panel's Ron Quinton, a former champion jockey, Jones will now be required to attend a series of remedial riding tuition sessions.
It is believed Quinton will give him personal lessons on how to ride safely.
Lessons to learn
When his suspension lifts on May 1, Jones will have to prove he has learned his lesson.
Murrihy said if he incurs a careless riding penalty within three months after his resumption of race riding, his metropolitan jockeys licence will be revoked.
If he gets a second careless riding breach, his racing licence will be withdrawn.
Murrihy also said Jones' riding skills would continue to be scrutinised with a formal assessment every three months.