Spencer fined $50,000 for 'assaulting' rival

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 December, 2003, 12:00am

The retained jockeys for two of the world's biggest stables engaged in a physical clash in the jockeys' room yesterday, a meeting of wills that had its sequel in the stewards room with Jamie Spencer facing a misconduct charge and receiving a $50,000 fine.

Spencer, who recently signed on as stable jockey for Aidan O'Brien at the famous Ballydoyle stables in County Tipperary, Ireland, allegedly grabbed Christophe Soumillon by the throat in an angry aftermath to a barbed conversation that took place between the jockeys at the barrier for the first of yesterday's 10 races.

Jamie Spencer left international day at Sha Tin richer for the experience but $50,000 out of pocket after stewards sorted out the fracas with Soumillon, the newly crowned champion rider of France and first rider for the Aga Khan.

Stewards charged Spencer, who is riding on a stay of proceedings pending an appeal over a careless riding suspension, with misconduct in that he grabbed Soumillon in the vicinity of the neck.

This is Spencer's third strike with Hong Kong stewards, coming on top of two suspensions for careless riding. And he's only been riding in Hong Kong for a month.

The stewards' official report continued: 'In assessing what they believed to be an appropriate penalty, the stewards took into account some provocation from jockey Soumillon towards jockey Spencer by way of a verbal comment at the barrier, that the matter was quickly resolved between the two riders by way of a handshake.'

The stewards added that Spencer clearly showed contrition.

Soumillon, who won the opening race at Happy Valley last Wednesday and the final event at Sha Tin yesterday on Bulls Eye for John Moore, also received a warning from the stewards.

Spencer's mount Opera Magic, became fractious in the barriers before rearing up and, as a result, had its right front leg caught over the adjoining partition. It was subsequently inspected by the clubs veterinary surgeon and scratched from the race. Soumillon's mount, Ambition, went on to finish second to the Anton Marcus-ridden Miracles, trained by Danny Shum Chap-shing.

Sources claimed that during this incident, Soumillon, a Belgian, made a sarcastic comment about the bravery of Irish jockeys, which appeared to have inflamed the famously volatile national pride of this particular Irishman.