McDonald hit with betting probe

Godolphin will "continue to support" jockey James McDonald after it was announced he faces charges over an alleged betting offence.

James McDonald could face a ban of two years

McDonald, who is Godolphin's retained jockey in Australia, has stood himself down from riding after he was charged with either betting on, or being involved with a bet, on one of his mounts at Randwick last year.

McDonald is alleged to have had a betting interest in Astern, whom he partnered to victory at the Sydney track on December 5, 2015.

A statement issued by Godolphin read: "His decision to step down from riding, pending the outcome of the investigation, is the right one.

"We will continue to support him throughout this process.

"Prior to the outcome of this inquiry, and in order not to prejudice the findings, we will make no further comment."

Racing New South Wales stewards announced the charges on Tuesday, immediately interviewing McDonald after acting on what was described as "intelligence received".

Following the interview, Racing NSW stewards issued a charge against McDonald, citing a rule concerning penalising any rider "if he bets, or has any interest in a bet on any race or contingency relating to thoroughbred racing involving a race in which he is riding".

The stewards added that "for the purposes of this rule, a bet includes a lay bet".

McDonald was not required to enter a plea, and the stewards accepted his request to be permitted to voluntarily stand himself down from riding immediately, pending the hearing of the charge.

A date has yet to be fixed for the charge to be heard.

Racing NSW chairman of stewards Marc van Gestel told racing.com: "There are a number of forensic materials that we need to go through, including betting information and other records.

"We intend to interview other people involving the matter and once those interviews and forensic investigations have been completed we will resume.

"But it might be a matter of weeks until we can revisit the matter."

McDonald enjoyed a lucrative spell in Britain over the summer, partnering the likes of Dutch Connection to win the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood, Big Orange to lift the Princess Of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket and Antiquarium, who landed the Northumberland Plate.

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