Punters left in the dark over the inconsistencies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 12:00am

This column feels quite comfortable in responding in print to what seems a groundswell of general opinion, so we air a popular grievance regarding the dual late scratchings of Sir Octavius and Lucky Superstar at Happy Valley last week.

The trouble began with outsider Lucky Superstar causing injury to jockey Simon Yim Hin-keung, who subsequently writhed in pain before it was decided he would not ride. While this was happening, one of the favoured runners, Sir Octavius, became fractious and got a leg over the partition to the next stall, sufficiently injuring himself to justify his scratching from the race.

Quickly after this withdrawal was announced, the field was dispatched with no further ado, leaving the Jockey Club to return millions from the last race bets - almost always the highest turnover race of a card.

On the previous Sunday at Sha Tin, the field for a mid-fixture all-weather event was removed from the starting gates when the second and third favourites - namely Czar Of Prussia and Modern Prospect - were withdrawn due to an incident in the barriers.

Officials in that case made the decision to delay the start of the race and allow the betting market to reconstitute to some extent, clawing back some of the lost turnover and, from the customers' point of view, allowing people to redesign their bets.

They were not entirely the same circumstances and officials chose to deal with them differently, but, at a time when losses through late scratchings have been unusually high, punters wonder why they have the chance to reinvest in one situation and not another.