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ZAHRA FACES HEAVY SUSPENSION

Victorian jockey Mark Zahra is the latest hoop to be implicated in the illegal Covid Mornington house party scandal and is facing a very costly period on the side lines with rides on top spring prospects likely to be scratched

Mark Zahra has been suspended for three months

The Caulfield Cup winning jockey is the fifth person to be sanctioned after being implicated with the illegal house party in Mornington that has seen several top riders suspended.

Zahra faces 3 months on the sidelines after the same penalty was handed to Jamie Kah, Ben Melham, Ethan Brown and Celine Gaudray for their involvement in the ongoing scandal.

As a result of the 3 month ban, Mark Zahra could still be fined by Victoria Police for breaching the Chief Health Officers directions with relation to the current Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns.

Mark Zahra is still able to ride trackwork, jump outs and official trials however he will not be allowed to return to competitive action until the 28th November.

Zahra now has 3 days to appeal the decision.

Racing Stewards were alerted that Zahra was in attendance at the infamous Airbnb party on Saturday.

The event has proved costly for the likes of Kah and Melham who will miss the chance for big rides during spring however it could be particularly costly for Zahra who had been booked to ride last years star of Spring, Verry Elleegant.

Connections to the Waller trained mare had booked Zahra earlier in August after the uncertainty of James McDonald and current Covid travel restrictions meaning her regular hoop was unable to guarantee attendance. 

Zahra was aboard Verry Elleegant last Spring when winning the Turnbull Stakes and Caulfield Cup at Group 1 level before finishing seventh in the Melbourne Cup behind 2020 winner Twighlight Payment.

The hunt for a new jockey to partner with Verry Elleegant will begin with the mare currently second favourite for the W.S Cox Plate behind Annabel Neasham trained import Zaaki. 

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