AUSTRALIA’S leading jumps jockey Steven Pateman will make an impassioned plea to Racing Victoria (RV) officials in a bid to ride unencumbered at next week’s TAB May Racing Carnival in Warrnambool.
Pateman, who has dominated the sport in the past seven years, was forced to give up the ride on Great Eastern Steeplechase winner Lord Of The Song at Oakbank on Monday because of a Racing Victoria-imposed restriction.
He can only accept rides on horses allocated weights of 67.5 kilograms or more under the restriction — 500 grams, or a tub of margarine, less than what Lord Of The Song carried to victory in the $160,000 race.
The 30-year-old, who yesterday saw an exercise physiologist in Thornbury, is hoping to make a case to stewards to have the weight restriction lifted this week in time for next week’s carnival — the biggest on the jumps calendar.
Pateman, who has won two Grand Annual Steeplechases in the past three years at the carnival, was hit with the weight restriction after earlier this year being disciplined by stewards for his 32nd weight-related offence in his decorated 12-year career.
But Pateman said his weight issue was under control and he proved that on the weekend when he weighed 66.8 kilograms on Saturday before claiming victory in the Von Doussa Steeplechase on Palmero, which had 68kg.
“I let people down at the start of the year because I was a lot heavier than I’ve ever been because I took a long break,” he said. “But I can ride at 67. I will be very selective about rides I do take.”
Pateman said he wanted to be free to make his own decisions about what rides he could or couldn’t accept.
“It will be like a burden taken off me,” Pateman said if the restriction was lifted.
“It cost me the Great Eastern which in my view I found was really unfair.
“I proved that to the stewards over there (in South Australia) on Saturday and we kept pursuing it all weekend but it all came down to the Victorian stewards.
“I feel it is completely unfair. It’s great seeing him (Lord Of The Song) win but I did all the work on him and I had the ride on him from a long way out.
“There are no guarantees they will (lift it) but it will be unfair if they don’t.
“It will be a weight off my shoulders.”
Pateman, who won five of the six jumps races at the 2012 Warrnambool carnival, including the feature Grand Annual Steeplechase and Galleywood Hurdle, said he was planning another big week with the majority of his favoured mounts likely to be given 67.5kg or more when weights are released tomorrow.
He expects to ride Von Doussa winner Palmero for his great mate, Winslow trainer Ciaron Maher, in the Brierly Steeplechase and possibly the Grand Annual if the quality jumper backs up.
He wants to ride the Gai Waterhouse-trained Glencadam Gold in the maiden hurdle but the weight restriction is threatening his ride on Galleywood Hurdle fancy West South West.
Pateman, Victoria’s leading jumps jockey for the past six years, said he hoped exercise physiologist Melissa Arkinstall would be able to help his case to stewards.
Racing Victoria deputy chairman of stewards Rob Montgomery yesterday said they would look at a report from Arkinstall, which they hoped to receive today, before making any decisions.
But he said stewards were worried about Pateman’s health and believed the weight limit was in his best interests.
“We don’t want to see any jockeys quit but in the case of Steve there are a lot of things we have to take into account before making any decisions,” Montgomery said.
“The first one relates to Steve’s health. There comes a time when the body just can’t waste anymore — other issues relate to Steve having a long history of letting owners and trainers down when he has accepted rides outside his weight range.
“It’s unfair on owners, trainers and punters if he accepts rides when he can’t make the weight.”
Montgomery defended the limit. “We have been fair and reasonable to Steve about his ongoing weight issues.
“We fined him $400 for his last incident at Sandown which was on the back of not taking rides at the last Warrnambool meeting.
“We could have suspended him at Sandown but we chose to put the weight limit on him,” he said.
“Our opinion on the matter has not changed.”