Racing New South Wales (NSW) stewards have interviewed the Godolphin’s retained rider over the betting activity on Astern ahead of his race win at Randwick in December of last year.
A late flurry of money saw Astern’s price drop from 4.60 to a starting price of 3.50 (5/2), for a race he went on to win by two and a half lengths.
Racing rules in Australia prohibit any jockey from backing or laying any horse, or even from having an interest in any bet on a race. McDonald, 24, has voluntarily stood himself down from riding until the inquiry into the matter has been heard, which might not be for several months.
He was not required to enter a plea and stood himself down after stewards told him they would consider exercising their discretion to suspend his licence. Racing NSW has also told McDonald that they reserve its position to issue additional charges should they unearth any further breaches of the rules.
A media release for Racing NSW stated: “Acting on intelligence received, Racing NSW today conducted an interview of licensed jockey James McDonald, relative to his association with a known punter and that punter’s betting activities.
“The details of the charge being that he had an interest in a bet on the horse Astern to win in Race 1 (Surf Meets Turf Plate) at Royal Randwick on Saturday, 5 December 2015, a horse that he rode in that race.”
The New Zealand born jockey, who is a key part of Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin team, spent the Australian winter riding in England and Ireland, and won high profile races at both Goodwood and Newmarket.