Craig Williams’ dreams of completing a unique spring carnival treble are over with the jockey out of the Melbourne Cup.
Williams failed to convince the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on Monday to grant him a stay of proceedings pending an appeal against a careless riding suspension.
A win on second favourite Dunaden in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup would have made Williams the first jockey to claim the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and the Cup in the same year.
Connections of Dunaden held the ride open for Williams pending Monday’s decision but also arranged for Lemaire to fly to Melbourne from Tokyo.
“I thank them for their support,” Williams said after the decision was handed down.
“I came here to use my legal rights and I’m extremely disappointed.
“But there’s plenty of racing left in me yet.”
VCAT judges Chris O’Neill and John Nixon sent a clear message the court was not to be used for jockeys’ convenience.
“It is not a matter for jockeys to determine the most advantageous time for a penalty to be served,” O’Neill said.
Williams was outed for careless riding at last week’s Bendigo Cup meeting with stewards imposing a ban which began at the conclusion of Saturday’s Derby day meeting.
The suspension includes Melbourne Cup day, Thursday’s Oaks in which Williams was to ride favourite Dowager Queen, and Saturday’s Emirates Stakes meeting.
Counsel for Williams, Matthew Stirling, argued that the interference in the race in question was minimal from Williams but exaggerated by the other horse over reacting.
Stirling said a stay should be granted to allow Williams to call witnesses which he did not do at last Friday’s appeal before the Racing And Disciplinary Board.
Chief steward Terry Bailey told the hearing his panel did not believe stays should be granted in careless riding cases.
“The stewards’ concern is that it has to be a deterrent,” he said.
“Our number one priority is safety.
“If there is not deterrent for that, the system falls down.”
Dr Cliff Pannam, representing the stewards, said granting jockeys a stay would mean “they can throw caution to the wind”.
He also told the hearing VCAT’s decision to grant another rider, Ben Melham, a stay of proceedings should be ignored as it was over a handling charge and not a safety consideration.
O’Neill said he and fellow Judge John Nixon were well aware of the potential income loss for Williams over the next few days when they came to their decision.
“But the system must not be allowed to fall into disrepute,” he said.
Dunaden was a betting drifter after the news Williams would not be riding, easing from $7.50 to $9 with fellow French horse Americain still favourite at around $5 with most bookmakers.