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Melham cleared on riding tactics


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Stewards have reminded jockey Ben Melham to follow trainers’ riding instructions after completing an inquiry into his tactics on Cross Street at Flemington on New Year’s Day.

Racing Victoria stewards took no action against Melham who had his ride on the David Hayes-trained Cross Street questioned when the gelding settled back in the field, contrary to his recent racing pattern, before finishing sixth in the Williamstown Handicap (1400m).

The Hayes stable was “disappointed” with Melham’s decision to ride Cross Street back after he began so well in the race.

The inquiry was adjourned until Thursday to allow stewards to study the betting on the race.

Melham and Hayes’ assistant trainer Tom Dabernig gave further evidence on Thursday while Hayes also provided new evidence.

Melham argued that before the race he had advised connections that he believed Cross Street would be better ridden back which was consistent with how he won his only race at Sandown in February last year.

Stewards heard that the stable wanted Melham to ride Cross Street forward with the proviso that if the gelding did not jump away cleanly, to try to take a sit back in the field.

Cross Street’s official betting fluctuation was $8 to $9.50 while race winner Utah Saints eased from $12 to $15.

Stewards found no abnormal betting activity on the race.

Melham started a nine-meeting suspension on Wednesday night for careless riding at Sandown on Monday.

The in-form jockey can ride again at Moonee Valley’s night meeting on January 14.