Police looking to bag 'crazy' race fan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2001, 12:00am

A police investigation was under way last night following an incident where a plastic bag of rubbish was hurled into the leading pack during the final race at Sha Tin.

The bag, which contained various items including a plastic bottle filled with water and an empty drinks can, was thrown from the crowd at about the 300-metre mark and hit the hindquarters of Billion Delight. No horse or rider was injured in the incident, but the culprit escaped without being apprehended.

The Jockey Club and police were last night studying TV footage in an effort to identify the offender. 'We have to do everything we can to catch the person who did such a crazy and disgusting thing,' said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Club's director of racing. 'It looked planned to me, rather than the act of a frustrated racing fan, which is disturbing. We were lucky today that no one was injured, but it could have been serious.'

He added that the Club would consider offering a reward of up to $100,000 in an effort to catch the culprit.

Tim McNally, the Club's head of security, led a deputation including police and security personnel to the scene of the incident after racing. 'It is a serious matter and the Club would unhesitatingly file a legal complaint if anyone is arrested,' McNally said. He added that on-course security would be reviewed in the wake of the incident. 'We have 200-plus security staff at every race meeting, which covers everything from traffic control to stable security, but we have a large number who patrol the public areas. Over the next couple of meetings we will look at the allocation of security staff and reassess our strategy in order to do everything we can to prevent a repeat.'

Brian Kan Ping-chee will face a Jockey Club inquiry tomorrow into his conduct at Happy Valley 11 days ago following the overruled objection in the Millennium Legend case. The move had been widely anticipated after Kan's appeal over that decision was dismissed at a hearing on Thursday.

A Club statement said: 'The stewards intend to discuss with trainer P. C. Kan comments which were attributed to him in editions of local newspapers last week following the Happy Valley meeting.'

The inquiry, which will be held at Happy Valley at 3pm, is expected to take evidence from a number of witnesses as well as reviewing the press reports.

Ivan Allan yesterday issued another upbeat bulletin on his Dubai trio Fairy King Prawn, Daliapour and Indigenous. The horses arrived in the early hours of Friday morning and the trainer said yesterday: 'They have settled in well and they all came out of the flight in good shape. Daliapour lost three or four pounds, but that's nothing after such a long journey, and I'm happy with them. They went out on the track for the first time this morning, just for a trot, and they'll have a canter tomorrow.'

Allan, who left Hong Kong last night, missed out with his five runners in the Centenary Sprint Cup but had a winning send-off when Always Win landed the griffin contest. The son of Marju came with a late dash towards the stands rail to land the spoils by 1.75 lengths from Indubitably Bliss.

Peter Chapple-Hyam paid tribute to the faith of his owners after School Days scored a clever win under Shane Dye in the Tai Wo handicap yesterday.

School Days has had chronic back troubles since entering the trainer's yard, so much so that his future looked bleak. 'At one stage, we were going to put him down,' Chapple-Hyam revealed. 'But the owners wanted to keep him. He came into my stables the December before last but with all the problems it was September last year before we could even canter him. The owners were patient and now they're starting to be rewarded for that faith.'

Dye did not set out to lead but took up the option when School Days jumped well and there was minimal speed on early. 'I told Shane to make the running if he had to, so that wasn't a concern,' the trainer said. 'And I knew they wouldn't run him down when he turned for home in front.'

The trainer pointed out that the inexperienced three-year-old was from a strong staying family and the best would not be seen of him until he stepped out over longer trips later on.

A total of 95 overseas entries from 10 countries was yesterday announced for the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on April 22. Possible runners in the $10 million contest include last year's runner-up Jim And Tonic, runaway Singapore Cup winner Silvano from Germany and four-time Australian Group One winner Sky Heights.

The 2,000-metre race carries international Group One status for the first time this year, and the Jockey Club's senior handicapper Ciaran Kennelly said: 'It is a higher-class entry than last year, with 25 horses rated 115 or more on the international scale. But 18 of the entries are running in Dubai next weekend, so we will have to see how they go there before we decide on the final selection.'

Up to 10 overseas horses can be selected for the race, with the overseas runners due to be announced on March 29 following a supplementary entry stage a week tomorrow. Entries for Hong Kong horses close on April 3, with the selections announced six days later.

Kennelly added: 'We have got some pretty good horses here, too, and last year Hong Kong runners finished first, third, fourth and fifth. So there should be an interesting blend.'