Delpech's season in tatters after heavy fall

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 2006, 12:00am

Anthony Delpech's modest season became significantly worse yesterday when he sustained a broken left collarbone in a tumble 20 metres past the winning post after the conclusion of the sixth race.

Delpech had ridden the David Oughton-trained Devon Flair into fifth place in the Tai Po Handicap, behind the Tony Cruz-trained Mr Genki, when his mount clipped heels and almost came down, propelling the four-time champion South African jockey from the saddle.

Doctors at the course diagnosed a probable fracture, which was later confirmed at the Prince of Wales Hospital at Sha Tin. According to the club's information secretary, Wilson Cheng Kwok-ming, Delpech was kept overnight for observation.

Repair times for fractured collarbones vary between six and nine weeks, depending on the location and nature of the breaks.

Chief steward Jamie Stier said that the Jockey Club would announce replacement riders for Delpech's mounts at Happy Valley on Wednesday night 'as soon as possible'.

'But we ask for people's understanding, that it is now Sunday night and declarations are first thing tomorrow morning, so there may be some riders that aren't notified by the normal time,' Stier said.

Stewards opened an inquiry into the fall, but have adjourned it until Delpech is able to give evidence. Although the race was actually over at the point where the fall took place, the standards for rider safety remain unchanged and a jockey may still be charged with careless riding.

Fellow South African Glyn Schofield was suspended for two meetings and fined $35,000 after being found guilty on a careless riding charge stemming from race five on the all-weather track.

Schofield, on board outsider Show Bravely for Ricky Yiu Poon-fie, was found to have permitted his mount to shift to the inside of Sea Treasure when not clear of Magic Temple (Gerald Mosse), causing that horse to lose its rightful running and be checked.

Schofield's suspension will take effect after the Happy Valley meeting on Wednesday.

The other rider to come out on the wrong side of racing's lawmen was leading apprentice Alex Lai Hoi-wing.

The top junior rider was found guilty of coming across too sharply on leader Universal Pioneer in the sixth event, and shaving Felix Coetzee on winner Mr Genki.

'Although some people may look at the video and say that Coetzee has barely had to check, when you look at the video Universal Pioneer is only one length clear,' Stier explained. 'It's not something we can condone at all.'

In keeping with the policy for punishment of apprentice jockeys judged guilty of careless riding, there was no fine component - just a three-meeting stretch which Lai asked to be deferred until after the March 22 meeting.