Cauthen seeks full-time HK job
By ROBIN PARKE
STEVE Cauthen, the man who turned his back on Sheik Mohammed's racing empire, wants to ride full-time in Hongkong.
The brilliant American has approached former champion trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee, for whom he has ridden winners in the past, inquiring about a position with the stable next season.
It is a move which will send further shockwaves through European racing circles, already reeling from Irish champion jockey Mick Kinane's rejection of the Sheik Mohammed position last week.
Cauthen, three times champion jockey of Britain and still only 32, was believed to have hung up his saddle when refusing to ride again for Sheik Mohammed next season. He returned to his Kentucky birthplace with wife Amy, who is expecting their first child.
But Kan revealed yesterday the approach from Cauthen, who has enjoyed three short winter breaks in Hongkong in the past.
''I was first asked a short time ago but I was then officially asked today if I would be interested in signing Cauthen on,'' he said.
''The original approach, I believe, came from his English agent and today I was asked by Wally Swinburn Snr, on Steve's behalf, if I could use Steve.
''But it is very awkward for me as I have Felix Coetzee and I am very pleased with him.
''I do not really have a vacancy now and I believe that Coetzee will also ride for me next season,'' said Kan who added: ''If Cauthen does come here, I would do my best to give him rides.'' Cauthen, who has ridden two Epsom Derby winners in Slip Anchor and Reference Point, was used by Kan four seasons ago.
The Jockey Club's director of racing, Philip Johnston, said: ''I am aware that some form of approach has been made.
''But it is really a matter between a trainer and Cauthen if he is interested.
''Obviously, from our point of view he is a world-class rider and would further boost the image of Hongkong racing. But it is not really for us to become involved.
''I don't think he would be interested in being a Club jockey nor do I really believe he would be ideal for the position as he does have a weight problem and we need someone who can ride for all trainers and at virtually all weights,'' he added.
It is understood, however, that the Jockey Club are quietly supportive of a move to bring Cauthen here.
And Johnston does not go along with the view that Cauthen is fed up with riding and will retire.
''Hongkong is an ideal place for him. He does not have the running around that he faces in England and can enjoy a family life here which I understand is very important to him,'' he said.
Those views are shared by many observers of the British turf who see Cauthen's disaffection in very straightforward terms.
John Karter, the respected chief racing writer of The Sunday Times, explained: ''Steve had lost his appetite for a job. The buzz of Epsom, Ascot and Longchamp still inspired, the daily slog of Chepstow and Catterick did not.
''In England, a top jockey cannot savour the cream without tolerating the dross and Cauthen was no longer prepared to compromise.
''Much of his disillusionment stemmed from problems with his weight.'' In Hongkong, Cauthen - as he well knows - would suffer none of these problems. Each meeting in the territory is the equivalent of a festival meeting in England.
There is only cream and with the cream goes a higher weight scale which has benefitted such jockeys as Gerald Mosse, Tony Ives, Declan Murphy and Danny Brereton.