Trainer set to withdraw Jones appeal

By ADAM HICKS

APPRENTICE jockey Joshua Jones will not proceed with his appeal against a stewards’ inquiry finding that he was solely responsible for causing the race fall that fatally injured jockey Daniel Baker.

Jones’ master, Ballina trainer Stephen Lee, yesterday cited emotional and physical exhaustion and damaging reports in a Sydney newspaper and on a national television breakfast program as reasons for withdrawing the appeal.

“I have put an application in to withdraw the appeal,” he told The Northern Star. “It’s just due to the bad publicity and feelings that Josh and I, basically, we’ve had enough.

“We’ve had racing experts and legal people view the footage (of the accident) and they all agree that we have a case that Josh is not 100 per cent at fault.

“The two-page story on Josh (in the Daily Telegraph last week) has done a lot of damage to us and to the appeal, plus mentally it’s drained Josh and myself, drawning every ounce of energy out of us.”

Jones was charged at a stewards’ inquiry in January with careless riding and handed a three-month suspension for shifting in at the 200m mark aboard Concitare, resulting in the severe crowding and the subsequent fall of Baker aboard Hotshot Hayil at Grafton on%December 2.

Baker was taken to the Gold Coast Hospital but died two days later from severe head injuries.

Jones appealed against the finding on the grounds that he believed he was not 100 per cent responsible for the fall.

After the inquiry, Lee told The Northern Star: “The reason we were appealing was the percentage of guilt, not the guilt itself. We were never contesting the sentence.”

“He’s come out of that room the only one blamed for the fall that tragically killed another jockey. He’s doing it pretty tough. Josh is going to have to live with it for the rest of his life. You have to come to a conclusion whether he’s 100 per cent to blame.”

However yesterday Lee said allegations in the Sydney paper that Jones had shown no remorse over the accident had already shaped public opinion and any outcome of the appeal would just serve to open Jones up to further criticism.

Lee said his approach to the Daily Telegraph to respond to the savage allegations was ignored.

Adding to the public bashing, Lee said, was a report on the Sunrise program which suggested that Jones should never again be allowed to ride on a track.

Lee said Jones would be saved from further public damnation by withdrawing the appeal.

“I think it’s just better withdrawing the appeal. I think the media will hang him which ever way he goes,” he said.



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