JOCKEY Shane Scriven has been banned from riding for five months for stealing an apprentice's whip during a race at Ipswich.
Racing Queensland stewards initially banned Scriven for six months but took into account his guilty plea, remorse, outstanding race riding record and the fact he will find it difficult to return to race riding given his age and history of weight issues.
He has been a regular and popular rider at Ipswich during a successful 30-year career although the Ipswich Cup has eluded him.
The suspension means he won't be allowed to ride again until September 26.
The stewards took a dim view of Scriven stealing apprentice Ben Looker's whip over the last 100m of a race at Ipswich last Friday.
Earlier in the race, he had his whip accidentally knocked from his hand. After the winning post, he handed Looker's whip back.
Scriven's mount Requested was beaten a nose by Seeyou with Toronto Dancer, ridden by Looker, a half-head away third.
Requested was disqualified from his second placing and Looker's mount Toronto Dancer promoted to second.
Looker did not report the incident and stewards took no action on the day. Looker was given a two-week suspension for failing to report the incident.
At a hearing on Thursday, stewards said they regarded the matter very seriously given that:
Scriven's conduct put his and Looker's safety at great risk.
His actions were intentionally designed to improperly improve his prospects in the race while disadvantaging another rider's chances; and
Actions such as his had the capacity to tarnish the image of racing and any penalty that is applied must serve as a deterrent.
Throughout his 30-year career, Scriven has had well publicised battles with weight and he told Thursday's inquiry in Brisbane he might not be able to come back after a lengthy suspension.
But stewards determined the bizarre incident warranted the penalty which, subject to Scriven being granted a stay of proceedings pending an appeal, begins after Monday's racing.
Scriven won the 2008-09 Brisbane premiership despite being unable to ride under 55 kilograms and has ridden many Group One winners.
Apart from winning the Mackinnon Stakes and Doomben Cup on Scenic Shot, Scriven made a name for himself riding horses including Prince Salieri, Rough Habit, Buck's Pride, Oppressor, Tiny's Finito and Burdekin Blues.