Trainer Hill fails to get a licence for next season

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 July, 2005, 12:00am

Veteran has not shown cause why he should receive one, says Jockey Club

Former championship-winning trainer of Hong Kong legend River Verdon, David Hill has been refused a licence for the 2005-06 season by the Jockey Club Licensing Committee.

Hill was asked to show cause why he should be granted a licence, after failing to satisfy the club's minimum performance criteria at three of the past four seasons, but in a very brief press release, the Jockey Club said yesterday that Hill had failed to do so.

The trainer of the wonder horse of the early 1990s, River Verdon, part-owned by current Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli, Hill was joint-champion trainer in 1992-93 when he and John Moore finished with 40 wins each.

In 18 Hong Kong seasons, Hill put together the record of 376 victories altogether, with a string of features in the early 1990s which included two Stewards' Cups, two QE II Cups and two Chairman's Sprint Trophies. But it was River Verdon who really put Hill's name in lights, with wins in the 1991 Hong Kong Derby, three straight Gold Cups and four successive Champions And Chater Cups.

River Verdon is still the only horse to win the Hong Kong Triple Crown of Stewards' Cup, Gold Cup and Champions And Chater Cup.

Hill could not be reached for comment yesterday, but still has a right of appeal to the Jockey Club's board of stewards.

He has become the highest-profile trainer yet to fall to the club's minimum performance criteria, introduced in the 2000 season on a 'three strikes' basis, though it was likely Alex Wong Siu-tan would also have fallen foul of the performance criteria had he not withdrawn his licence application for reasons of ill health.

After failure to reach the required minimum number of 12 wins in seasons 2001-02 and 2002-03, Hill had scraped through when the benchmark was raised to 13 victories in 2003-04. However, under the rule, a trainer who has failed to meet the requirements for two successive years, is required to show cause if he should fail to meet the requirements in any subsequent year and Hill's just-completed 2004-05 season yielded 11 wins.

Another trainer, Andy Leung Ting-wah, who failed to meet the criteria for the first time with 10 winners in the 2004-05 season, was asked to provide a written explanation regarding the decline in his stable performance.

The Licensing Committee also agreed to the withdrawal of approved applications for retained riders for next season by John Size and John Moore, while Caspar Fownes, Tony Millard and Dennis Yip Chor-hong were given until August 31 to nominate their stable riders.

Failure to name a name by that time will render their previously-approved applications for a retained jockey invalid.