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Roche, Spriggs in hot water at Randwick

A break-neck speed battle has landed jockeys Leigh Roche and Blake Spriggs in hot water with stewards at Randwick.

Roche vigorously rode the Bjorn Baker-trained Zatopaz to try to get the lead from Blake Spriggs and Thewayweare in the TAB Handicap (2400m) on Saturday.

Spriggs came under fire for not handing up the lead to Zatopaz, while Roche’s hard riding of his mount during the entire race received a scathing assessment from the stipes.

Chief steward Marc Van Gestel grilled Roche over the ride, saying he should have given the horse a mid-race breather rather than continue to push forward.

“I’ve never see a horse been ridden as vigorously in the first half of a race in a race at Randwick,” Van Gestel said.

Roche said his instructions were to ride Zatopaz positively but admitted he wasn’t told to lead at all costs.

“I was told the horse is very lazy,” he said.

Roche, who is in Australia on a three-month stint, said in Ireland he had won races by riding horses vigorously during entire races and he was still adapting to racing in another country.

Zatopaz finishing seventh while Thewayweare was a long last.

The inquiry has been adjourned to a date to be fixed.

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