Jockeys warned to take extra care when going for a run through gap
Chief stipendiary steward John Schreck yesterday said the Jockey Club would not tolerate riders 'putting themselves and others at risk simply to get a run in a race'. But he admitted it was a fine judgment call for both jockeys and officials to decide whether taking a gap was justified.
'We won't accept jockeys creating hazardous situations by going for a run where the space is not available,' Schreck said. 'But having said that, the stewards will also hold an inquiry if they see riders who don't take a run when there is the opportunity to do so. We want them to take runs, it is part of race-riding, but we have to make a judgment and so do the riders over when they should take a run and when they shouldn't.'
Schreck was speaking in the wake of last week's inquiry into the Happy Valley Trophy which saw Basil Marcus handed a seven-meeting ban for improper riding. Before racing yesterday, Schreck held a press briefing in the Sha Tin inquiry room to explain the Marcus ruling using the patrol film footage of the incident.
The incident took place approaching and rounding the home turn as Marcus, aboard Charming City, attempted to squeeze through on the inner of Lucky Win. Schreck pointed out that Marcus at first eased off the heels of the leader but 'then you can see he changes to a driving position and the shoulder of his horse hits the hindquarters of Lucky Win'.
Schreck said the incident could have been worse if the former Singapore-based Lucky Win, who was having his first run in Hong Kong and around a right-handed track, had been more attuned to Happy Valley.
'You can see Lucky Win is favouring his left side because that is how he has been used to racing, and if he had been on a nearside-leg lead when Charming City came on his inside, he might not have been able to kick it out as he did and the situation could have been more serious. If it is good enough for Basil Marcus to go through there, then it's good enough for Patrick Tse or anyone else to go through there, and we don't want that.'
The Tse reference was deliberate as Schreck recalled a similar incident at Happy Valley in March which led to a fall for Dwyane Dunn and a ban for Tse. Dunn was also close to the incident involving Marcus as the Australian, aboard Prime Witness, was following Charming City and Lucky Win in the race and was called to give evidence at the hearing.
Schreck said: 'Although he didn't say so in evidence, you can see Dwayne Dunn is trying to get out from behind those two horses because he doesn't like the way things are developing in front of him.'
Yesterday's briefing was another sign of the Jockey Club's mission to explain stewarding decisions, which began last February when the press were invited into the inquiry room following the controversial griffin race involving Classic Master and Indubitably Bliss.