Stable dumps suspect jockey

RACING giant Darley Australia has distanced itself from Mark Zahra after the top jockey was named as being under investigation for race fixing.

Darley Australia’s managing director, Henry Plumptre, said yesterday that Zahra (below) would not ride a Darley runner until the police probe into his handling of a horse at Cranbourne last year was completed.

”Mark is not currently riding at the moment, but I think we’d leave it until the investigation is finished,” Plumptre said.

”This industry stands or falls through the integrity of our sport, and if there is an issue all I can say is that we’d be extremely disappointed.”

Zahra was reported as saying yesterday: ”They told me I’m not needed, at least until this thing’s over. The really disappointing thing is that I haven’t been charged with anything. I’m implicated in something, I guess, but I haven’t been charged.”

Darley is owned by United Arab Emirates Prime Minister and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed, who has racing bases in six countries. Zahra has been one of the leading riders for the global stable’s Melbourne base, collecting more than 100 wins on Peter Snowden-trained runners during the past few seasons.

Zahra rode Baikal in a race at Cranbourne in April last year. He is being investigated for allegedly riding against beaten favourite Retaliate to give Danny Nikolic’s heavily backed mount, Smoking Aces, an improved chance of winning. Smoking Aces won the race.

Zahra was named in The Age yesterday and on Monday night’s Four Corners program on the ABC as being under investigation, along with Nikolic, for alleged race fixing.

Racing Victoria is waiting to be briefed by police on the investigation before considering any action against the riders.

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