Chapple-Hyam to be quizzed over poor performance
Peter Chapple-Hyam, the only remaining trainer who failed to reach the 12-winner target in the season which ended last Sunday, is to be asked to explain his poor record as the Jockey Club yesterday made clear it is determined to press on with its performance assessment of trainers. Director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said the dismissal of Bruce Hutchison, Chris Cheung and Wylie Wong was 'not an ice-cold decision. The Licensing Committee was aware it was making a very serious decision which would affect people's lives. It did not take it lightly'.
But he added: 'In a closed environment like Hong Kong, you have to set a benchmark and monitor performance. Training in Hong Kong is heavily subsidised and it is a privilege to train here, but it is only fair to expect a certain level of performance from trainers, as we do from our executives and from the jockeys. We want owners to be happy with a trainer, but it is not only an owner's choice to have a certain trainer - it is the Club's choice, too.'
Hutchison had 10 winners in the past season, while Cheung and Wong managed only six. Chapple-Hyam also finished on the six-winner mark in his first full season and failed to meet the Club's criteria on prize-money and percentage of winners to runners. 'Peter Chapple-Hyam will be asked to explain why he didn't meet the criteria and what he plans to do to improve the situation,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'It is unfair to judge him on the previous season because he arrived during the season, but this was his first full season and we would expect him to do better now.'
Engelbrecht-Bresges again stressed that the criteria were only guidelines. 'What they mean is that if a trainer doesn't meet any of the criteria, then his performance will come under review. But we will look then at the trainer's overall record and judge him on that.' On the three axed trainers, Engelbrecht-Bresges said: 'Wylie Wong and Chris Cheung have requested to be considered for other positions with the Club. Bruce Hutchison hasn't done, but I can understand he is very upset. I will be calling him tomorrow.'
He confirmed the three would have to vacate their Club-owned accommodation at Sha Tin, but added: 'We haven't set a time scale for them to move out. We will discuss things with them and do it in an appropriate way. We want to be fair to them.'
The Club is now two short of the maximum number of 26 trainers despite bringing in John Size and Manfred Man for the new season. Theoretically, they will have around 60 horses available from the dispersal of the existing strings of the three axed trainers, though several of the better prospects are likely to go to established stables.