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Melham changes plea gets eight
00:19 AEST Sat Oct 27 2012

Jockey Ben Melham has taken the unusual course of amending his plea on a careless riding charge while driving home from the races, allowing him to ride in Saturday week's Victoria Derby.

Melham originally pleaded not guilty to the charge at an inquiry into the opening race at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

Stewards took into account his poor record and the lack of a guilty plea in determining a 10-meeting suspension which would have allowed him to return on Melbourne Cup Day at the earliest.

Melham then left the track, pondering whether to forfeit rides at Sale on Sunday to allow him back on Cup day.

But as he drove home he phoned chief steward Terry Bailey with the proposal that he change his plea in a bid to earn a reduction in the penalty.

Bailey agreed, reducing the suspension to eight meetings with Melham also forfeiting rides at Saturday's Cox Plate meeting in order to start the ban as soon as possible.

Melham finished second in the race on Crafty Cruiser and protested against Verdant, ridden by Dwayne Dunn.

Not only did Melham fail in his protest, he attracted the attention of the stewards over interference caused to Buxted before the home turn.