Zahra to miss Guineas meeting

Mark Zahra will miss the upcoming Australian Guineas meeting after failing to have his careless riding suspension from last week reduced on appeal at the Victorian Racing Tribunal on Thursday morning.

Zahra was suspended for eight meetings following his winning ride aboard Gytrash in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on Saturday.

Gytrash shifted inwards when insufficiently clear of runner-up Redzel, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, over the final 150 metres.

Zahra lodged an appeal against the severity of the penalty, desperate for the suspension to be reduced by one meeting to allow him to ride at the Australian Guineas meeting at Flemington on February 29.

Matt Hyland, who represented Zahra, contended that the penalty should be reduced due to Zahra's 'impeccable record' which has seen him incur just one suspension over the past 12 months - a 25-meeting suspension and $3800 fine for causing interference which led to a two-horse fall at Randwick on April 13.

Hyland argued that missing three metropolitan meetings, including the Australian Guineas meeting, was 'an extreme penalty'.

Racing Victoria's chief steward Robert Cram reminded Judge John Bowman that while the interference was considered 'low-range', Zahra's carelessness was 'high' due to shifting ground at the 150-metre mark and once again at the winning post.

Cram said the penalty was given as a strong deterrent for fellow riders not to breach careless riding rules in Group 1 races.

Judge Bowman stated in delivering his verdict that he believed the penalty was 'fair and reasonable in the circumstances' before dismissing the appeal.

"The early interference at the 150-metre mark is not great, but it was nevertheless careless," Bowman said.

"Perhaps more significantly it should have put you on alert that your horse was tending to shift in under pressure with Kerrin McEvoy (aboard Redzel) to your inside.

"The second, more noticeable interference, should not have occurred.

"In my opinion, which reinforces Mr Cram's submission in relation to this being a valuable Group 1 race, the message must be sent to jockeys, that interference will result in an appropriate penalty.

"The bottom line is that I consider eight meetings to be an appropriate penalty, and I'm very conscious of your good record and the fact you'll be missing a Group 1 day but eight meetings seemed to me to be a penalty that is fair and reasonable in the circumstances."

Zahra’s eight-meeting suspension will start following this Saturday's meeting at Caulfield where he's booked to ride Rulership in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) and Super Seth in the G1 Futurity Stakes (1400m).

Super Seth is $2.75 favourite with BetEasy while Rulership is the $6 second elect behind Hanseatic ($2.70).

Gytrash and Mark Zahra, picture