Salutes such as Kingston Town Classic-winning jockey Chris Parnham’s celebration aboard Truly Great enable the positive promotion of thoroughbred racing to the masses and should only warrant disciplinary action in rare instances.
Racing and Wagering Western Australia fined Parnham $500 under AR131(c) of the Australian Rules of Racing, which stipulates a rider must not, in the opinion of the stewards, make any celebratory gesture prior to their galloper passing the winning post. Rules are rules, but the law is an ass.
The only salute that should attract the ire of stewards is one that either genuinely places other participants in danger or genuinely runs the risk of impacting the result, which is paramount for any number of reasons, not least of which is the fact wagering is what bankrolls thoroughbred racing. Parnham’s celebratory gesture moments before he passed the Ascot winning post and joined his big brother, Steven, as a Group One-winning jockey was neither dangerous nor likely to change the outcome of the race because Truly Great defeated his Kingston Town Classic rivals handsomely.
The stylish salutes of riders such as Aaron Mitchell (2018 Karrakatta Plate) and Parnham (2020 Kingston Town Classic) in Western Australia, and Brenton Avdulla (2016 VRC Oaks) and Glen Boss (2020 VRC Sprint Classic) in Victoria, have assisted thoroughbred racing in capturing the eyeballs of millions of people. And it is no coincidence those images, both moving and still, are the ones to which the sport’s marketers go when they want to connect with the public.
Please come down like a ton of bricks on salutes such as Mickael Barzalona’s celebration aboard Pour Moi in the 2011 English Derby because antics like his in one of the world’s most prestigious thoroughbred racing events deserve not only a big fine but also a hefty suspension. But enough of the killjoy punishing of jockeys who are exhibiting jubilation and demonstrating there is more to the sport than betting.
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