Irish jockey Declan McDonogh’s farewell to Australian racing has been marred by a costly oversight and a suspension.
The 37-year-old’s swan song started in bizarre circumstances at Warwick Farm on Saturday when he was fined $200 for Racing NSW stewards for failing to remove a towel from Phoneme before they jumped in the Lonhro Plate.
“It was draped across and I forgot about it. The horse beside me was playing up and nearly came and shook hands with me a couple of times,” he said.
“That took my eye off the ball, I have to accept responsibility.”
The Chris Waller-trained colt finished second last, almost 11 lengths behind the winner Sandbar.
“There are significant safety considerations,” said Racing NSW chief steward Marc van Gestel.
“If the towel releases and wraps around a leg or cover a horse’s head it’s going to have dire consequences,” he said.
McDonogh struck more trouble after guiding Xebec to third the Davali Thoroughbreds Cup (2400m), a gelding he had ridden in Ireland before the six-year-old headed to Australia from John Oxx’s stable.
He was charged with careless riding after Xebec shifted out on unplaced Chatelard at the 400m, pleaded guilty and was banned until February 18.
McDonogh, who returns home on Monday ahead of the Irish flat season, had his first ride in Australian in early December and rode 11 winners during his stay.
He hopes to return to Australia later this year providing he can satisfy visa requirements.