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Jockey who had facial reconstruction banned from riding over mask dispute

“I’ve been wearing a surgical mask, which I have no problem wearing. I take COVID very seriously. The reality is my face was ripped back half-way to my ears a few months ago.

“My nose is so sensitive I don’t even worry about getting the dirt off my face during the day because I struggle to touch my nose. I just wait until the end of the day when I can use a bit of water and do it gently.

“I can’t wear sunglasses, I even struggle with my riding goggles. They are just cut that little bit bigger around my nose so I can tolerate it.”

Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel said Costin’s letter from her surgeon which she had at Bathurst claimed the N95 mask provided her with discomfort, but it wasn’t an explicit exemption from wearing the covering.

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Costin is due to ride again at Scone on Tuesday and Racing NSW was considering advice on Monday night about whether she will be able to take the one mount.

“We’ve knocked back several other exemptions from other participants because we don’t want to risk the industry,” Van Gestel said. “We’ll take professional advice to see if we can allow her to go without it.”

Costin has started the new racing season with a bang, riding 10 winners already this month to be in the top five on the NSW premiership.

Racing NSW stewards have taken extraordinary measures to keep the industry going during the latest Sydney COVID outbreak, including segregating jockeys in different riding zones which determine the tracks they can frequent.

Many riders have moved homes away from virus hotspots and left families to live in alternate accommodation to continue making a living.

The industry hasn’t been without its hurdles.

Warwick Farm trainer John Sharah was disqualified for nine months after he attended trackwork when infectious with COVID.

Sharah was found guilty on two charges for attending the morning session while displaying COVID-like symptoms and not isolating until the results of his test were known. Sharah contacted stewards immediately after learning of his diagnosis.

Contact tracing deemed he didn’t spread the virus to any other participants at the south-west Sydney track.

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