Cheng banned for 13 meetings
Jockey Howard Cheng Yue-tin was hit with the heaviest penalty of its kind in more than seven years yesterday, receiving a 13-meeting suspension for failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures in a race, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
After a spate of suspensions last season for non-competitive riding, Cheng became the first rider booked for that type of charge this term.
Cheng was charged under Hong Kong Jockey Club Rule 99, parts (2) and (5), which state 'the jockey of every horse should take all reasonable and permissible measures throughout the race to ensure that his horse is given a full opportunity to win or to obtain the best possible placing in the field'.
Stewards said Cheng's ride on My Name Is Bond at Sha Tin on May 16 had been tactically errant on a number of occasions and lacked 'sufficient purpose and vigour' in the final stages. Cheng's penalty for his ride on the Dennis Yip Chor-hung-trained horse begins after Sunday's Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup meeting, after which there are only 13 race days left this season.
Five riders were given time under the running and handling rule last season, the last being Mark du Plessis, sidelined for seven meetings and fined HK$75,000 in June last year for a ride on Fun Heroes.
Cheng was charged under the same rule back in 2004 for a ride on My Fortune, for which he was handed nine meetings, but this penalty is the harshest since Craig Williams received a 16-meeting ban in 2005 for a ride on Trust Me.
Stewards focused on Cheng's handling of the 24-1 outsider, who finished seventh, over the last 500m of a Class Three Handicap at the all-dirt track meeting last week. It was claimed Cheng, who has 24 hours to appeal the decision, remained in last place from the 500-metre mark to the 400, when it was possible to move from behind rival New Greenfield.
The jockey was then alleged to have continued to race inside of New Greenfield, failing to take a clear run to the outside of that horse when it became available and causing his mount to be crowded for room.
In the last 300m, Cheng was found to have not used 'sufficient purpose and vigour' in riding to the line.
In summary, the stewards stated: 'That as a consequence of his failure to ride My Name Is Bond with any initiative or endeavour or with sufficient purpose and vigour over about the final 500 metres of the stated race, My Name Is Bond was not given a full opportunity to win or to obtain the best possible placing in the field.'
Cheng had already missed 11 meetings this season through careless riding charges, including a single seven-meeting stretch for his role in a fall in which Brett Prebble broke a collarbone at Sha Tin in February.
Stipes also expressed concerns about the riding instructions given to Cheng by the horse's trainer, a HKJC release saying Yip was 'further advised that he has a responsibility to issue riding instructions which are clear, concise and appropriate so as to ensure that wherever possible horses trained by him are not ridden in a manner which is open to query.'