Stier rejects bias claims after ban on Suborics

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 12:00am

New chief steward Jamie Stier strongly defended the integrity of his panel and denied allegations of bias against European jockeys yesterday after German-based Austrian ace Andreas Suborics copped another suspension on Sunday.

The stewards were accused of 'double standards' and of showing favouritism to jockeys' premiership contender Shane Dye in a Chinese newspaper yesterday. The allegations in the Apple Daily were met with a firm but emotionally controlled defence from the top law man, who has only been in charge for two months.

'Obviously I completely reject any suggestion of bias or favouritism and I am very happy to explain any of our decisions,' Stier said. 'But I don't have to justify them to anyone but my employer [Hong Kong Jockey Club],' he added.

The story referred to the 'majority Australian stewards' panel' demonstrating bias against jockeys of European heritage after Suborics was suspended for four meetings for careless riding.

Suborics, who had just returned from a careless-riding suspension, allowed his mount Master Fay to shift in when not sufficiently clear of Helene Pillaging, causing that horse to be unnecessarily crowded and checked.

The allegation against Stier and his stipendiary panel came about because Dye had been one of the central players in a piece of interference some 200 metres earlier, and emerged from a subsequent inquiry with his licence intact.

Stier said he had not been asked for an explanation of the Master Fay decision, until the Post inquired. He said negative publicity went 'with the territory' for a chief steward, whose key roles are to oversee the safety of all jockeys and the general integrity of the industry.

'And we don't want to be dragged into a public debate on an issue like this, but clearly we absolutely deny any suggestion of bias or favouritism,' said Stier, who conceded that the incident involving Dye, who rode Gem Of India, was one of 'some significance'.

'Without doubt the consequential effects of the interference suffered by My Honour [in the Dye incident] were greater than those caused by Suborics on Master Fay,' he continued.

'We would explain that [in the first incident] the inside horse Trillion Win got its head on the side and shifted out while at the same time Dye's horse got its head on the side and shifted in, away from Master Fay.'

The large number of contributing factors to this piece of interference were what distinguished it from the Suborics case, Stier said.

'In the Suborics incident, some 200m later, we would allege - as we did in the wording of the charge - that he [Suborics] permitted his mount to shift in when not clear of Helene Pillaging.' And, being solely responsible for the breach of the rules, the case for a charge of careless riding against Suborics was found to be made.

'They were two entirely different sets of circumstances,' Stier concluded.

Irish rider Jamie Spencer and Australian Dwayne Dunn were also suspended by Stier's panel on Sunday for careless riding offences.