James McDonald, Kerrin McEvoy and Hugh Bowman likely to miss Melbourne spring
The odds are shortening that champion Sydney jockeys including James McDonald, Hugh Bowman and Kerrin McEvoy will be forced to forgo Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate dreams and remain in Sydney for the entire spring carnival.
Managers of the star Sydney jockeys say that while they have not yet put the Victorian spring carnival in the too-hard basket, it at this stage appears increasingly unlikely the high-profile hoops will be able to ride in Melbourne during the spring.
In last year’s spring carnival, Sydney hoops were able to ride in Sydney one Saturday and compete in Melbourne the following Saturday.
While there were no significant Government restrictions at that time, racing industry protocols made the Sydney jockeys isolate on arrival in Victoria and then provide a negative Covid-19 test result on the sixth day.
However, the huge numbers of new Covid-19 cases currently in Sydney have seen the Victorian border slammed shut and even those who are granted exemptions must quarantine for two weeks.
It is becoming increasingly likely that Glen Boss, who News Corp revealed had been booked to ride Melbourne Cup favourite Incentivise and Cox Plate-bound Alligator Blood, may be the only Sydney hoop to compete in Melbourne over the spring.
Three-time Melbourne Cup winner Kerrin McEvoy may not contest the race this year. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
With tight government restrictions and seemingly no end in sight to Sydney’s awful Covid-19 landscape, champion Sydney jockeys now know they is probably little hope of riding in Melbourne during the spring.
“As each day goes on, it is getting trickier and given the two-week quarantine, it’s going to be a real struggle to get any Sydney jockey there,” Bryan Haskins, who manages top jockeys including Bowman and McEvoy, said.
“It’s up in the air but as it stands, with the two-week quarantine it looks really, really hard.
“Jockeys are probably missing too much sitting in quarantine for two weeks, for just maybe one day.”
Mark Guest, who manages McDonald, indicated the prospect of the champion hoop being able to ride in Melbourne in the spring “was not looking good.”
The likely scenario, where Sydney jockeys remain in Sydney to ride during the carnival and Melbourne jockeys do the same in Melbourne, throws up some fascinating scenarios.
For instance, McDonald is set to ride Zaaki when he resumes in Sydney but who will ride the Annabel Neasham-trained star in the Cox Plate?
Chris Waller’s multiple Group 1 winning mare Verry Elleegant will resume in the Group 1 Winx Stakes in Sydney on Saturday week, where News Corp has confirmed that McDonald has been booked to ride.
A new jockey will likely need to be found for Zaaki in the Cox Plate. Picture: Trackside PhotographySource:Supplied
But Verry Elleegant will need a new rider for her Melbourne campaign and an announcement could be imminent.
“We are working through jockeys at the moment with a view to making a decision on both Sydney and Melbourne engagements shortly,” part-owner Brae Sokolski said.
Under current Covid-19 restrictions and because of the quarantine period, it is not possible for Sydney jockeys to ride in big spring races in two cities even if they receive an exemption.
For instance, any jockeys riding in The Everest (16 October) in Sydney would be unable to ride in the Cox Plate in Melbourne the following Saturday.
Any Sydney jockey wanting to ride in The Everest and the Melbourne Cup would have to go into quarantine almost straight after The Everest day if they wanted to ride in the Cup on November 2.
And that is even if they were granted an exemption to enter Victoria.
The hope is restrictions will be eased, with still plenty of water to go under the bridge until the big Melbourne spring races are run.
But that seems long odds given the current Covid disaster in NSW, with a record 345 new cases and two more deaths reported.
Originally published asWhy star Sydney hoops will skip Victorian spring carnival
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