UPDATE: Racing NSW stewards have commenced an investigation into possible Covid-19 protocol breaches in Queensland by Hugh Bowman and James McDonald, two of Australia’s most famous jockeys.
Bowman and McDonald were in Brisbane last week for the Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara meeting when the Queensland Government slammed shut its borders to Sydney residents over Greater Sydney’s latest ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, leaving the jockeys unable to ride at the Eagle Farm meeting on Saturday June 26.
With the pair already in Brisbane in preparation for the meeting, a TV report alleged they decided to travel north to Port Douglas for a holiday where footage emerged of them competing in cane toad racing at Hemingway’s Brewery.
The footage was posted on prominent racing identity Robbie Waterhouse’s Twitter page before being swiftly removed, but not before the Nine Network got hold of it and showed the footage on A Current Affair on Friday night.
Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel said the matter was the subject of an investigation by stewards and he wouldn’t rule out further action being taken when the jockeys return home to Sydney.
“They’re up there at the moment and they’re obviously subject to the Queensland authorities and whatever they decide to do,” Van Gestel said.
“It’s obviously disappointing.
“They left on the 23rd and the Queensland orders were that anyone that had been in Greater Sydney from the 21st had to self isolate for 14 days.
“We’re looking into it.”
While both McDonald and Bowman were allowed to stay in Queensland, government guidelines dictated that anyone who had been in Sydney prior to arriving in Queensland would be required to self isolate for 14 days.
Fellow Sydney jockeys Kerrin McEvoy, Tommy Berry and Rachel King all travelled home to Sydney after the border closure was announced to avoid the isolation orders, while Bowman and McDonald along with McDonald’s partner Katelyn Mallyon chose to travel north to Port Douglas for a holiday where they caught up with Sydney racing identity and socialite Kate Waterhouse, the daughter of Gai and Robbie Waterhouse, and her husband Luke Ricketson.
There is no suggestion Bowman and McDonald have jeopardised racing, with neither riding in a race since Wednesday June 23.
Late on Friday night, Mark Guest, jockey manager for James McDonald, said to his knowledge there had not yet been contact from Queensland government officials to his client.
A Queensland Government directive issued on June 27 stated, “anyone in Queensland who has been the LGA’s in the Greater Sydney Region on or after 1am AEST on 21 June 2021 must follow the stay at home requirements for a period of 14 days” meaning the order expires in July 7.
Both McDonald and Bowman rode at the Canterbury meeting on June 23 before flying into Queensland that night.
Originally published as Stewards to probe jockeys’ alleged Covid-19 breach