‘Worst moment in my racing career’: Jockey Joseph Azzopardi banned after Perth Cup incident

Jockey Joseph Azzopardi has been suspended for six weeks after it was determined he was responsible for a collision which resulted in a horse having to be euthanised on the track.  

“It is the worst moment in my racing career,” the 27-year-old told The West after accepting the ban.

Azzopardi, who was riding Buster Bash during the New Year’s Day race, was deemed to be at fault following an investigation where he was charged for careless riding after he allowed his horse to shift outwards when not clear of mare Chili Is Hot.

MORE: Young jockey Megan Taylor tragically dies after a fall at race meeting in New Zealand

Dom To Shoot and Chili Is Hot both collided early in the race at Ascot Racecourse with the latter euthanised after attempts to move her proved unsuccessful.

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

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

Azzopardi apologised for the incident while detailing how he had desperately attempted to avoid the unfortunate collision.

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

The jockey received the six-week suspension which RWWA chief racing integrity officer, Denis Borovica, labelled as “very large” despite the race having to be abandoned and rescheduled for January 14.

“We determined the appropriate penalty was a suspension of six weeks, which was basically effective immediately, and backdated to commence as of yesterday,” he said.

“A suspension of six weeks to a professional jockey is a very large penalty, it effectively deprives him of his livelihood for that period.”

Borovica explained how the position of the fall is what led to the race being abandoned, while defending Western Australia’s equine welfare record.

“The location of where this incident occurred is what required the race to be called off, as the field was going to have to traverse that section of track on the second lap,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate what occurred yesterday, but we race 2,000 races a year without incident, and we raced the subsequent race without incident.”

However, Emma Madle from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses disagreed with the assertion of WA being a safe haven for horseracing.

“How can you say that when we have the most lethal course? There have been 10 deaths at Ascot in just over 12 months,” she said.

“The deaths on track are just the tip of the iceberg.”

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