Allan primes Yim for all-HK assault
Former champion apprentice Simon 'Hong Kong' Yim will be asked by Ivan Allan to make up a 'true Hong Kong team to take on the world' aboard Jeune King Prawn in Sunday's Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo. Allan has settled on Simon Yim Hin-keung after Weichong Marwing's last-ditch appeal against the severity of a four-day careless riding suspension was summarily rejected by the Jockey Club board of stewards yesterday and Marwing hit with a $20,000 fine for abusing the appeal process.
'It is a Hong Kong horse, with a Hong Kong owner. Why not support a local rider and make it a complete Hong Kong team? It will be a big experience for him but I'm sure he will handle it,' Allan enthused last night after conferring with Jeune King Prawn's owner, Philip Lau Sak-hong.
Allan, who had considered booking former Hong Kong-based jockey John Egan or a Japanese rider, added: 'Simon is a good rider, he is a strong jockey and most importantly he follows instructions. Jeune King Prawn is not a hard horse to ride, but neither is he an easy ride. Whoever we booked at this stage was going to be unfamiliar with the horse, so it is important that my instructions are adhered to. And I know young Simon will do that.'
The Yasuda Kinen will be a huge moment for Yim, coming in the race in which Allan and Lau teamed up two years ago to make Fairy King Prawn the first and only Hong Kong-trained horse to win on the international Group One stage.
'I would be very excited to ride Jeune King Prawn in Japan,' Yim said last night, although he added that Allan had yet to contact him regarding the mount. 'I have never ridden in a race like this one and it would be a wonderful experience for me.'
Few locally born riders have been given the opportunity to compete in major races abroad, but Yim will be hoping for a better result than Alex Yu, who finished last aboard the Allan-trained Holy Grail in the 1999 Yasuda Kinen. Before that, the last local rider to compete in a major overseas race was Jackie Tse, who partnered the Australian-trained, Hong Kong-owned Danewin to ninth place in the 1995 Japan Cup.
Yim has ridden just one winner, Sensible Way, for the Allan stable this season but his connection with Lau goes back to his days as a champion apprentice under trainer Patrick Biancone. 'At that time, Mr Lau had a horse called King Prawn in Mr Biancone's stable,' Yim said. 'I think it may have been his first horse. I don't remember if I won on the horse or not but I certainly did ride it.'
The booking of Yim to represent Hong Kong in such an important race would be the highest point yet in a roller-coaster career which included four years in the racing wilderness after being caught in the backwash of an ICAC operation in 1997. Yim was cleared of any wrongdoing but was not able to return to the saddle until April last year and his career since the comeback has been just as fraught with pitfalls.
Suspensions for careless riding even threatened to finish his career in Hong Kong in January this year. Following Yim's second five-day ban in quick succession, Jockey Club director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges told the media at Happy Valley on January 16 that the jockey's record had become a concern 'and it becomes a question of whether we can license him in the future'.
A further careless riding penalty cost Yim the Derby ride on runner-up Precision in March, but another has now led to Yim's chance in the international limelight after Marwing's appeal against the severity of his ban was dismissed in a hearing lasting 30 minutes yesterday.
'The matter was pretty straightforward,' said Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'It was Weichong Marwing's third careless riding charge this season, so the four-day ban was probably a lesser penalty than he might have expected to receive. So it follows that his appeal against the severity of the ban was dismissed. The board of stewards also felt the second matter was quite straightforward too.'
Marwing was found to have abused the appeal procedures in his efforts to be available for Jeune King Prawn on Sunday and fined $20,000 under Rule 133(7). Under the rule, the stewards have the power to fine any appellant if they decide that appeal 'is frivolous or vexatious'.
It was the second fine handed down this season for abuse of the appeal system, but well short of the $100,000 demanded of Douglas Whyte when he was charged under the more serious misconduct rule last November. That was also sparked by the jockey's attempt to keep engagements in Japan. It is believed that Jeune King Prawn's owner will pay the fine for Marwing as the rider was taking such pains specifically to keep his commitment to the horse in Tokyo.