Jockey Club may sue angry Aussie over claims of triad darts cover-up

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2007, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Jockey Club will ask its lawyers to assess for prospective legal action comments made by the Australian trainer of Takeover Target, Joe Janiak, on the mysterious drugged 'darts' found buried under the Happy Valley track in March.

Janiak has been reported in the Australian media as saying: 'I won't be going back to Hong Kong while it's not a level playing field. They stitched us up once and we couldn't defend ourselves and now they've got that trouble with the triads shooting darts at horses.

'There's been nothing said since I read about it a couple of months ago and I think they've tried to hush it up.'

The Valley meeting last night provided the backdrop as club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges explained that the suggestion of a cover-up had touched a nerve at Sports Road.

'We don't mind that people have different views on racing issues or that they criticise us,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'However, when it comes to integrity issues, this is more sensitive and I feel that people should be held accountable. We want to be careful not to overreact but we will be asking our lawyers to examine what he has said and we are prepared to go to court for redress if necessary.'

It has been a lively week for the club as Engelbrecht-Bresges is also writing to Ron Maund, the Australian trainer of star sprinting filly Gold Edition, after comments last weekend that he would not bring the filly to Hong Kong in December because he felt raw deals had been handed out here to jailed jockey Chris Munce and to Janiak, when Takeover Target was scratched from the Hong Kong Sprint last December with a drug positive.

'Perhaps he is not aware of all the facts involved - for one thing, that the Chris Munce case is an ICAC matter and has nothing to do with the Jockey Club - so I will be happy to explain it all properly for him,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

On the track, the trainers' championship moved one peg closer to a resolution as Caspar Fownes again stretched his lead out to seven victories over Paul O'Sullivan with only 14 meetings to run, but the jockeys' title remains tight.

Fownes scored with Durable in the fifth and the grey provided Brett Prebble with the chance to pull back the winner Douglas Whyte had scored on Fantastic Win in the opener.

'I didn't come here expecting much but I want to win this championship and every winner is welcome,' said Fownes. 'Durable surprised me a bit with the speed he showed when he won fresh at Sha Tin over 1,400m, so I've tried to keep him a bit fresh, space his runs and that seems to keep the speed in him. I reckon he's horse who will surprise people next season.'

Anthony Delpech headed for a suspension with another soft win on three-year-old Kingsgate Glory last night and the Tony Millard-trained colt is showing signs of being more than handy with maturity.

'He's quite a nice horse, better than the horses he met tonight, but he did well jumping up to 2,200m for the first time,' Delpech said. 'I wanted to go out and ride him positively even though I knew they'd test his stamina tonight. They can't chase you the whole race and by the time Matiri King did try us out from the 700m, I was already very confident he had their measure.'

On a night when three of the winners were backing up from Sunday's Valley card, Me Tsui Yu-sak took the training honours With a double using horses which were not back-ups, Fantastic Win and Sudden Splendour (Howard Cheng Yue-tin).

Fantastic Win gave Whyte a little space to breath after stretching his break over Prebble to four wins but Durable's victory closed the gap to three again and Olivier Doleuze rejoins the fray this weekend returning from suspension another five behind Prebble.