Five-time Group 1-winning jockey Noel Callow was left in shock when shown texts of alleged drinking and drug use by stewards prior to riding a hot favourite at Kilmore.
A Twitter handle with just 38 followers sparked a heated stewards inquiry involving jockey Noel Callow before he rode $1.70 favourite Diamonds’n’stones to win at Kilmore on Tuesday.
Callow was at Kilmore for just one ride, the hot elect for Team Hawkes in the second race, when he was asked to provide a random urine sample under the normal drug testing procedure.
But it was the subsequent inquiry into an unsubstantiated “tweet”, responding to the official Racing Victoria stewards Twitter handle on an unrelated matter that raised the jockey’s ire as he prepared to ride the favourite.
The tweet, shown to Callow as a screen shot by stewards, alleged he was seen at a Richmond hotel on Monday “Had 100 pints last night 2 bags, last seen at the sporting globe Richmond claiming not to be Noel Callow”.
It followed another tweet response to Racing Victoria stewards from the same account that alleged Callow had “40 pints and a (picture of a bag) and can no longer ride”.
“I was absolutely stunned,” Callow told Racenet.
“I thought this couldn’t be serious, it rattled me.
“I’m self-employed, I’m there to do a job for my owners who employ me and the trainers. It’s a privilege to ride for John Hawkes and his family and after all that happened I’m behind the barriers thinking this isn’t happening. Thankfully the race couldn’t have gone any better and the horse won like he should have.”
“I arrived at the races early and had a sauna before being told my number was up for a random drug test. I have no problem with that, I had to drink a little water so I could provide a sample.
“I know the stewards have a job to do and absolutely no problem with the drug test, they happen all the time. But it was when stewards called me to the room to talk about the tweet and its allegations that shocked me. I thought ‘are they serious’.”
Callow was then asked to do a breath test, which he agreed to in the jockey’s room within 45 minutes of the race start time. It came back negative.
Callow, who objected to being asked personal questions about his whereabouts on Monday after the allegations were tabled, told stewards he had spent Monday watching American NFL football with fellow jockey Mark Zahra.
“I’m not on social media but it’s disappointing and frustrating that I have to answer these sort of allegations from someone with no credibility.” Callow said.
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