Dittman's HK bid gathers support
ROBIN PARKE and LAWRENCE WADEY
Two of the big guns of Australian racing have lent their weight to the bid of the legendary Mick Dittman to ride in Hong Kong for the final three months of the present season. The respected chairman of the Victoria Racing Club, David Bourke, and Peter Gallagher, who occupies a similar position with the Queensland Turf Club, have endorsed Dittman's bid in separate approaches to the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
The secretary of the Jockey Club's Licensing Committee, senior stipendiary steward Christopher Lee, has informed Dittman, through the jockey's solicitors, that his application will be considered but no date has been given for the meeting.
Dittman is seeking the last licence available to ride in Hong Kong this season - barring unforeseen circumstances.
Considered by many as the best jockey in the country since George Moore, Dittman actually eclipsed Moore's record of Group One winners recently and now stands unchallenged.
A spokesman for the solicitors acting for Dittman, who is riding in top form, said: 'The Jockey Club has informed us that there will be a Licensing Committee meeting in due course.
'No one can be in any doubt that Dittman is the best jockey in Australia and has been for years. He has also done well in Hong Kong when riding there on short-term contracts in the past.' The Queensland-born Dittman has always relished the challenge of Hong Kong, but also the fact that it precludes any travelling. He can display his talents twice a week, but still have time for a relaxing game of golf.
Although riding as well as he ever did, Dittman is coming towards the end of an illustrious career and he is keen to have one more significant riding stint in Hong Kong.
The final three-month slot is invariably reserved for Southern Hemisphere riders and it is known that former Sydney champion and then Hong Kong-based John Marshall is keen on a return.
Meanwhile, the International Vase winner, Partipral, was yesterday given a clean bill of health by trainer Patrick Biancone.
'He is 100 per cent sound this morning,' confirmed Biancone. 'I plan to trial him a week on Friday and then hope to run him in the Remy XO Cup.
'I may have to persuade the vets, but I have done that in the past with Helene Star and he came out and ran second in the Chairman's Prize.' Partipral finished tailed off over an inadequate mile in Sunday's Sha Tin Trophy after which he was reported lame by the vets who also feared for his racing future.
But on Monday, Biancone put those fears at rest.
Biancone has all along maintained that it was no more than stiffness associated with an older horse making a comeback after a layoff.