McDonald escapes serving ban in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, 12:00am

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Visiting jockey James McDonald will finish a forgettable stint at the season finale on Sunday at Sha Tin after stewards deferred the commencement of a three-week suspension for a drug positive at a hearing yesterday.

McDonald (pictured) pleaded guilty to a charge under Hong Kong Jockey Club Rule of Racing 60 (1), after testing positive to banned substances hydrochlorothiazide and chlorothiazide, both considered diuretics.

The former champion apprentice will begin his suspension on Monday and can return to race riding three weeks later on August 6, a stretch that includes 15 racedays in his home country of New Zealand.

The penalty is in line with a six-meeting ban, the equivalent of three weeks in local racing, given to apprentice Henry Tsang Kam-chuen in 1999 and McDonald will serve his time abroad as he is not contracted to ride in Hong Kong at the start of the 2012-13 season.

The 20-year-old McDonald supplied the positive urine sample at the meeting at Sha Tin on July 1, the day he began his current tenure, and was later stood down with flu-like symptoms.

McDonald then skipped the following Wednesday's meeting at Happy Valley through illness, where two of his planned rides won, returned to Sha Tin last Sunday and has three rides at Happy Valley tonight.

The penalty is just the second given to a jockey this season for a positive drug test, the first being a four-meeting ban handed to Howard Cheng Yue-tin for a positive to ephedrine and methylephedrine in April.