Stawell jockey and trainer Linda Meech will serve out a 23-meeting ban after being found guilty of improper riding this week.
Riding As Bad As Tyson in race 6 at Kilmore on January 8, stewards found Meech “altered her whip action with her left arm and used her whip in a manner that struck apprentice Stephen Brown on the right hand side of his body” approaching the 100 metre mark of the race.
Victoria’s leading jockey was given two weeks to present evidence in her defence but stewards came to the decision on Saturday to ban her until midnight of Tuesday, February 13.
Stewards took multiple factors into consideration when assessing the penalty, stating they accounted for Meech’s “excellent record, (the incident) didn't effect the result of the race and it was low impact.”
The suspension will deal a significant blow to Meech’s Victorian premiership position.
I think it was just one of those unfortunate things that happens but knowing Linda there would be no malice at all
The 37-year-old is currently the number one jockey in Victoria, with 55 wins from 339 starts, winning more than 16 per cent of her races.
Horsham jockey Dean Yendall is not far behind Meech, with 49 wins from his 317 starts.
Meech also holds a lead in the Victorian country standings, notching 48 wins this season, five more than nearest competitor Jamie Mott.
A trainer in the racing industry who has worked with Meech and did not want to be named said the incident was out of character and a “mistake”.
“Linda has got an outstanding record and it is not like her to do anything like that,” the trainer said.
“I think it was just one of those unfortunate things that happens but knowing Linda there would be no malice at all. “Racing is a high pressure sort of game. Plenty of people get on the sporting field and get a rush of blood sometimes.”
The suspension means Meech will be unable to race at Sunday’s Great Western Cup.
Meech entered her suspension on a high, winning for fellow Stawell trainers Terry and Karina O’Sullivan on Goodjamak Baby in race two at Terang on Tuesday.