Lift drama has stewards looking up and down at rules
The stewards of the Jockey Club will look at existing rules following the malfunctioning lift saga on Wednesday night which almost brought worldwide embarrassment to Hong Kong's racing jurisdiction.
With the judge and the honorary assistant judge caught in a stalled lift along with chief stipendiary steward John Schreck and colleague Jamie Stier, there was a recipe for disaster.
'It would have been extraordinarily embarrassing worldwide and everyone involved knew that,' Schreck said. 'We use the lift in the weighing room and it had been checked out after last week's heavy rain, which I personally thought might even have wiped out the meeting.
'I still do not know exactly what happened with the lift but eventually it stopped about 18 inches below the first floor and we had to step up and get out. By that time the race was actually finishing,' said Schreck.
The third event was the tightest finish of the season so far with Paradise Chase giving Eric Legrix the first leg of a winning double and trainer Geoff Lane his first of the season.
Rule 27 states that the judge or his authorised representative must be in the Judge's Box when the horses cross the line. The assistant judge, later deemed a suitable person, was in the box.
This seems sure to lead to a change in local rules with the distinct possibility of following the rules of the Irish Turf Club, where it is stated that 'if for any reason the judge or his authorised substitute be precluded from carrying out his duties or is unable to do so then the chairman of the stewards of the meeting or his authorised deputy may exercise all the powers and functions of the judge'.
Meanwhile, trainer Lane has lost one of his long-time owners as former Jockey Club chairman of stewards, Sir Gordon Macwhinnie has decided against purchasing a new horse.
Sir Gordon was the chairman 10 years ago but has owned horses here for 40 years, enjoying the ups and downs of the sport.
'He actually hasn't had a horse for at least a couple of years. His last one was Best Endeavour who was not really very good. I think we got away with one in low class company.
'Before that, however, he had Endeavour, who won five in succession and must have been the best he ever had. He was a super horse to train and then one day at Happy Valley he refused to be loaded.
'It had never happened in the past and I figured something had to be wrong. He went in and the race was run but Endeavour finished midfield,' Lane said.
It later transpired that Endeavour had a severe back problem which prevented him racing again.