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Stewards crack the whip on Ben Melham

Golden Slipper-winning jockey Ben Melham was suspended and fined for excessive use of the whip while riding Assign to victory at Rosehill, shortly after Racing NSW stewards warned him about repeated infractions.

A review of the Group Three Neville Sellwood Stakes on Saturday revealed Melham used the whip 15 times before the 100m mark, 10 more times than permitted.

Stewards imposed a two-week suspension that included the final day of The Championships at Randwick on April 8, meaning he will be unable to ride Assign should the gelding line up in the Sydney Cup.

Chief steward Marc van Gestel said a suspension was inevitable because Melham had breached the rule eight times since September, including last weekend, when She Will Reign was whipped 10 times before the 100m.

Van Gestel also said stewards had spoken to Melham about those breaches before he mounted Assign.

“We just spoke to you 10 minutes before you went out and rode in the race,” he said before also imposing a $2000 fine.

Melham, who confessed to a “brain fade”, was also fined $1000 for his ride in the Golden Slipper and another $300 for saluting before the winning post.

The Melbourne-based hoop unsuccessfully argued for a heavier fine and a 13-day suspension effective immediately so he could have ridden at Randwick in a fortnight.

Already without a ride in the headlining $1.5 million BMW because Our Ivanhowe was scratched, Melham’s race day started on an ominous note when he was late arriving at the track due to a missed flight.

Corey Brown stepped in to ride The Mission to victory in The Schweppervescence.

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