Jockey Joseph Azzopardi banned for six weeks over Perth Cup horse death

Experienced jockey Joseph Azzopardi has taken a six-week ban on the chin after he was deemed at fault in the 2023 Perth Cup which saw the event suspended and a horse die.

The race which was held on New Year’s Day was abandoned mid-race after two-horses — Dom To Shoot and Chili Is Hot — both fell early in the race.

Chili Is Hot was seriously injured in the fall and couldn’t be moved off the track, and was ultimately euthanised on track.

Perth Racing CEO James Oldring said: “Our thoughts are with all those connected with Chili Is Hot.”

Dom To Shoot, who continued to run without its rider after the incident, suffered abrasions and was found to be lame in the off foreleg but survived.

Oldring added: “This is one of the hardest events for anyone involved with racing to deal with.

“The welfare of jockeys and horses is always our top priority.”

After an investigation, it was deemed that Azzopardi, who was riding Buster Bash was at fault, charging him with “careless riding under AR131(a) with the particulars being that near the 2200m he allowed Buster Bash to shift outwards when not clear of Chili Is Hot (P Knickey) causing that mare to contact the heels of Buster Bash and fall with Dom To Shoot (J Turner) falling in consequence and Neufbosc (B Parnham) and numerous other runners also receiving interference.”

Azzopardi pleaded guilty to the charge and was suspended for six weeks.

The 27-year-old Azzopardi told The West: “It is the worst moment in my racing career.

“It was not intentional and I was trying to control Buster Bash, who was riding waywardly.”

RWWA chief racing integrity officer Denis Borovica said the six week ban was “a very large penalty, it effectively deprives him of his livelihood for that period.”

Oldring said while horse racing was a high-risk sport but that Australia had a strong safety record.

“I think WA, actually Australia as a whole, should be quite proud of their equine welfare record. They have the lowest fatality rate in flat racing in the world,” he said.

The Perth Cup has been rescheduled for January 14.

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