French ace cops ban after mid-race melee
French rider Eric Saint-Martin last night received a two-day ban and a $60,000 fine arising from a scrimmage at the entrance to the straight in the sixth event.
Saint-Martin, riding Look Who's Angel, swept up and around a group of horses on straightening and his mount rolled inwards as he rushed home for fourth to Pot Black. 'I've been charged. I will definitely appeal,' Saint-Martin said even before the decision was handed down. 'There was a shift out from the inside and if that didn't happen then Steven [King] would not have been checked. Nothing would have happened.'
Just Win (Steven King) was badly checked in the incident, which probably took on added significance coming in the the wake of David Harrison's fall from My Chief last Wednesday night and the three horse pile up last Sunday.
Stewards took evidence from Saint-Martin, King and three other riders involved in the incident, Wendyll Woods (Forever Victory), Felix Coetzee (Victory Master) and apprentice Way Leung (Easy King).
Saint-Martin's suspension added to the rider shortage, but the Jockey Club yesterday plugged the gap by granting a licence to leading Singaporean jockey Saimee Bin Jumaat for the final three race meetings of the season. Saimee rode in Hong Kong for the final month of last season, with three winners and three placed horses from 33 rides.
Harrison and Shane Dye are still in hospital, with Douglas Whyte, John Egan, Simon Yim and now Saint-Martin suspended. In addition, Anton Marcus missed last night's meeting due to the after-effects of his fall on Sunday and Tony Culhane, also involved in that pile-up, had to stand down last night after the sixth race. Marcus and Culhane are expected to ride at the weekend.
Wylie Wong Wai-lit, one of the three trainers refused a licence for next season, gained some hope of a reprieve when Speedy Forward landed the second race. Wong - along with axed colleagues Bruce Hutchison and Chris Cheung Ting-pong - has appealed against the Jockey Club's decision, with the hearings set for June 19.
After scoring his sixth win of the season, Wong said: 'I don't know what will happen. All I can do is try to train some more winners so that I have something to bargain with.'