Jockey James McDonald has copped an 18-month ban.
Jockey James McDonald has copped an 18-month ban. JULIAN SMITH

Jockey banned for 18 months for illegal betting

CHAMPION Sydney-based jockey James McDonald has received an 18-month suspension from Racing NSW after pleading guilty to betting on one of his mounts at Randwick on December 5 last year.

That horse, Astern, won the race, leaving McDonald with a $4000 profit from a $1000 bet placed on his behalf by professional punter Anthony Gardiner.

McDonald pleaded guilty to the offence, which comes under rule AR 83, which prohibits jockeys from betting, or having any interest in a bet, on any race.

The minimum penalty was two years' disqualification.

McDonald's counsel Matthew Stirling, however, argued for leniency, saying the jockey had co-operated with stewards.

Stirling also pointed to the 2012 case of Damien Oliver, who was suspended for 10 months after pleading guilty to placing a $10,000 bet on a rival horse in 2010.

"(Oliver) committed an extremely serious offence which is a far greater attack on the integrity of racing (than this case),” Stirling said.

"A lot of punters out there would not mind a jockey betting on their own mounts.

"This is a case where a fine and combination of a suspension of two or three months is an appropriate penalty.

"It sends an appropriate message ... and delivers a penalty in light of the seriousness of his offence.

"The punishment must fit the crime.”

McDonald has donated the $4000 to charity.

Stewards found Gardiner made more than $125,000 in profits from bets placed on Astern in the December 5 race.