Clear Win's breathing problems leave favourite backers gasping for air
The stipes continued their blitz on jockeys at Sha Tin yesterday, slamming Anthony Delpech, Kevin Shea and apprentice Alex Lai Hoi-wing with careless-riding bans as they joined Brett Prebble, Douglas Whyte, Jacky Tong Chi-kit and Eric Saint-Martin on the suspended list.
The stewards had two favourites - Triumphant Diamond and Super Goal Master - with heart irregularities, Doucai break down, Optic King lose all chance after sprawling at the start and Sean Woods' odds-on pop Clear Win apparently beaten due to holding his breath.
Stier said jockey Olivier Doleuze had reported Clear Win made an unusual noise early in the third race then held its breath in the race before the rider felt his mount was going to fall over just after the post. The horse then made odd breathing noises on return to scale and a veterinary examination later showed Clear Win to be suffering from left-sided laryngeal paralysis - and those who backed him into $15 favourite weren't feeling well either.
On the jockey front, Delpech has an adjournment into his handling of Spare A Dime to face, but the horse also earned him a two-day ban and HK$30,000 fine.
For Shea, it was shifting in on Rely On Me early in the eighth which earned him two days and a HK$10,000 fine. He will ride on Monday before starting the penalty. From the same race, Alex Lai was ousted for two days and fined HK$10,000 for shifting in at the 200m on Ample Gains, and his ban also begins after October 14.
They were once the all-conquering C-team of Hong Kong racing, Tony Cruz and Felix Coetzee, but yesterday's win together with Rocket Power in the fifth was the first for the combination for the best part of a year.
While both enjoyed their usual successful seasons in 2006-07, Coetzee had not won a race for Cruz since scoring on Smart Fellow at Sha Tin on November 4 last year and it was far from unexpected. Punters sent the gelding out a warm favourite after a close third first-up for the season and trainer Cruz said he was very confident after Rocket Power had worked hard on a tough speed when third first time out this season.
Coetzee said the win was a memorable one for him as his daughter, Katherine, recently turned 18 and thus was able to be on course for the first time to see him win. 'I think she turned up just before that race, so it was perfect timing,' Coetzee said.
There has been no easy entry for John Moore's new stable rider Darren Beadman, who arrived on Monday, had a mount in each of the three trials on Tuesday and had additional therapy at trackwork yesterday morning.
'With the equine influenza in Sydney, Darren hasn't been riding as much as he normally would so we're trying to knock the rough edges off his fitness,' Moore said yesterday.
'Darren reckoned that in four years he'd probably ridden three canters for John Hawkes in trackwork - he easily passed that number this morning.'
Beadman begins in earnest on Monday at the National Day Cup meeting.