Jockey Ben Melham has been suspended for 11 meetings due to a careless riding charge but will be able to resume in time to hopefully gain a mount at Morphettville’s Goodwood and South Australian Derby Day next month.
Melham was outed for 11 race meetings following his ride on the Lee Freedman-trained debutant Alarms in the $15,000 Lest We Forget Maiden Plate (1000m) at Bendigo on Tuesday.
His manager Mathew Alesic said Melham would not appeal the suspension after the hoop pleaded guilty to the charge.
The suspension has Victorian trainer Lee Freedman in search of a new jockey to take the ride aboard his talented two-year-old Spatha at Caulfield this coming Saturday.
Lohnro colt Spatha, who broke their maiden status at Morphettville on April 16, was due to be ridden by Melham in the $100,000 Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) on Saturday.
Melham, who was aboard three winners at Flemington on Anzac Day, rode Spatha to their impressive five and a half length victory a fortnight ago but will miss the chance for back-to-back wins on the colt.
The jockey’s suspension will cease on Sunday, May 8, when the Group 1 The Goodwood and the Group 1 SA Derby run at Morphettville.
The Freedman stable is seeking successive wins in the Blue Sapphire having taken out last year’s edition with the previously unraced son of Encosta De Lago Smokin’ Joey.
The 2011 Blue Sapphire Stakes attracted 17 nominations with acceptances to be taken on Thursday.
Also among the early entries are another from the Freedman stables, Redoute’s Choice filly Baptism, who will be ridden by last year’s Blue Sapphire winning hoop Chris Symons, and City Of Song.
The John Moloney-trained filly City Of Song shares the same sire as superstar mare Black Caviar, Bel Esprit, and will look to bounce back in the Blue Sapphire.
On debut City Of Song won the Race-Tech Handicap (1000m) and Sandown coming from ninth to first in March but has been unlucky in finishing third at her next two runs.
In the Swettenham Stud Handicap (1000m) at Caulfield on March 19 she was just over a length away third behind subsequent Golden Slipper runner-up Mosheen with her jockey, Jason Benbow, charged with careless riding.
Last start City Of Song was beaten two and a half lengths by winner Cash Bound and runner-up Whitlam in the Chandler Macleod Handicap (1000m) at Moonee Valley on April 2 after striking early interference.
“She’s had a bit of a freshen-up between runs because the plan was to run her in this race (the Blue Sapphire),” Moloney said.
“It’s a Listed race and there are no penalties on her behalf so we’ll see how we go. It all reads okay.
“It is what it is, she’s had no luck at her last couple but you still have to overcome bad luck sometimes and she never did.
“She wasn’t good enough to overcome bad luck.
“Some horses can be that way, but she needs to now find some luck and see how (good) she is.
“It would be nice to put that behind her by doing something on Saturday. That will tell us.
“She was impressive at her first run so we’ll just have to play on that and hope that she can come through and go on with it.”