Top jockey Tommy Berry has been rubbed out for a month for his part in a race day fall at Randwick that resulted in fellow rider Brenton Avdulla being hospitalised.
Avdulla’s mount Xtremetime clipped the heels of Berry’s horse Jamaea (fourth) near the 100m in Saturday’s Silver Shadow Stakes and fell heavily, dislodging Avdulla who was knocked out on impact with the ground.
He was taken to hospital with concussion but was later found to have fractured a vertebrae in his neck and will require an extended period of recuperation.
Racing NSW stewards opened an inquiry into the fall prior to the first race at the Kensington meeting on Wednesday.
Berry, along with Jean Van Overmeire who rode sixth-placed Glistening and Tim Clark aboard winner Swift Witness, attended in person while Avdulla gave evidence via teleconference.
Avdulla said he recalled the race being a muddling run affair but remembered little after positioning Xtremetime to the outside of Glistening’s heels halfway up the straight.
“It’s a bit of a blur. It happened pretty quickly after that,” Avdulla told stewards.
“(But) the video is pretty clear to be honest.
“It looked like I was more worried about ‘JVO’s (Jean Van Overmeire’s) heels than anything and right at the death I’ve avoided his and just got the back of one of Tommy’s.”
Berry told stewards he spotted “half a run” towards the inside and attempted to quickly manoeuvre Jamaea into the gap before realising Glistening was tiring more quickly than he’d anticipated, resulting in Avdulla’s mount being forced into restricted galloping room.
Berry stopped riding in an attempt to relieve the pressure but Avdulla was unable to avoid his horse’s heels.
“I’ve put myself and Brenton in a pretty awkward spot there and I didn’t afford Brenton much room to move,” Berry said.
Berry pleaded guilty to a charge of careless riding, which chief steward Marc Van Gestel deemed to be in the “medium” range.
Stewards had contemplated whether it was in the higher range but agreed with Berry’s evidence on Wednesday that he had made attempts to rectify his mistake.
He will begin his penalty on Sunday and will miss four Saturday meetings, significantly the Group 1 Golden Rose program on September 25, before he can return to the saddle on September 30.