iskander

Winks gets the nod for Hong Kong


James Winks is free to ride Douro Valley in next month’s Hong Kong Vase despite being suspended over an incident at Geelong in September which left fellow jockey Willy Hernan with life-threatening injuries.

JamesWinks Hernan, who attended the inquiry on Monday, is still recovering from multiple injuries as a result of a fall from Kala’s Joie, who clipped the heels of Winks’ mount Stanza Spirit.

Winks was found guilty of shifting in aboard eventual winner Stanza Spirit when not sufficiently clear of Kala’s Joie but his good record went towards stewards giving him 30 meetings instead of a calendar month.

The penalty ends on December 13, allowing him to ride in Hong Kong the following day.

Winks, 25, told stewards the accident was unfortunate and he would change what had happened if he could.

But he said there were "circumstances" because there were three shifts in running, including two by Eddie Cassar, the rider of the third-placed Ninety Four, and one by himself.

Presiding steward Daniel Aurisch told Winks the shifts made by Cassar happened before Winks started shifting out.

"Eddie Cassar put me in a position that I had to come out, I’ve skipped heels to get clear," Winks said.

"If Eddie Cassar doesn’t shift I believe it (the incident) doesn’t happen. I couldn’t come out as smoothly as I otherwise would have.

"My carelessness and shift are minimal."

On penalty, Winks told stewards that he had an excellent record leading up to the incident.

"Over the spring I’ve ridden in all the majors, the pressure races and I have a very good record," he said.

Winks said apart from a seven-meeting suspension for careless riding aboard Secret Flyer at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day, he had not been suspended for 18 months.

Aurisch said the stewards acknowledged Winks’s good record and took that into account when arriving at the penalty.

Winks won the Group One Caulfield Stakes on Douro Valley last month and was beaten a long head by Zipping on the gelding in Saturday’s Sandown Classic.

The jockey had to gain a release from four Danny O’Brien-trained horses at Wednesday’s Ballarat Cup meeting so that he could start the suspension immediately.

By Mark Ryan