James McDonald reacts after riding Hartnell to victory in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington in October.
James McDonald reacts after riding Hartnell to victory in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington in October. JULIAN SMITH

McDonald's ban costs him $1m-a-year job

RACING: Champion jockey James McDonald has thrown away his $1 million-a-year job after illegally gambling on his own race to make $4000.

In a shock fall from grace, the Sydney-based Kiwi was yesterday disqualified for 18 months after pleading guilty to having a bet on Astern - a horse he rode to victory on December 5 last year.

McDonald's boss at global racing empire Godolphin, billionaire Subai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said the jockey was "released from his current contract with immediate effect”.

Racing NSW stewards found professional punter Anthony Gardiner put a $1000 bet on Astern on behalf of McDonald.

Godolphin issued a statement saying it had "zero tolerance of any breaches of the prohibition on betting by a jockey”.

"His long-term future with Godolphin will be reviewed in due course by His Highness Sheik Mohammed,” a statement said.

McDonald, 24, has vowed to appeal and insists he will be back riding.

"I made an error of judgment when betting on Astern when I rode it and broke a rule of racing. I accept full responsibility for that,” he said.

"But I am extremely disappointed with the penalty and I will be appealing. I will be back riding and hopefully sooner than later.”

McDonald's suspension expires on May 15, 2018.


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