Delpech cops six weeks on sidelines
Stewards' ban threatens Vengeance Of Rain rides
South African rider Anthony Delpech may be separated for the first time in almost three years from his beloved champion Vengeance Of Rain after Jockey Club racing stewards hit him yesterday with a six-week ban.
Delpech's not guilty plea to a charge of not taking all reasonable and permissible measures to win on Spend A Dime last Wednesday at Sha Tin fell on deaf ears and the jockey was suspended until November 15 - a total of 11 Hong Kong race days.
Ten jockeys have been penalised under the charge since it was introduced in 2000, the most severe penalty being 16 days, handed out to Craig Williams in 2005.
The John Size-trained debutant Spend A Dime came late to finish second to Rocket Power but stewards took exception to Delpech's tactics between the 800m and 250m.
'It's very disappointing - I've been charged with not doing enough on the horse to win the race but I got suspended on the day for banging into five horses trying to get Spend A Dime into the clear,' Delpech said yesterday. 'In 24 years as a jockey, no one has ever suggested I've done anything but give my horses their best chance to win. John Size spoke to the inquiry and said he wasn't upset with my ride. David Ferraris also spoke to them and said that, in 15 years riding for him, he had never questioned my riding.'
Stewards particularised the charge into what they regarded as three specific tactical errors: the first when Delpech did not take an opportunity to improve his position at the rear of the field when an inside run was available after the 800m, the second that he failed to take the same opportunity between the 800m and 500m, and the third that he did not show sufficient vigour between the 500m and the 250m to enable Spare a Dime to take a run prior to the 250m.
'The stewards were disappointed that I didn't show more vigour but I've ridden thousands of winners by being patient - by not being a jockey that goes bang, bang, bang and stuck into them early,' said Delpech. 'I rode two winners the same day by coming late from the back of the field and that's my style.'
The matter may not be concluded, though, as Delpech said he would consider an appeal.
'David Ferraris has kindly offered to go through it with me and we will look at the possibility of appeal. I will make a decision on that [today],' Delpech said. 'I don't like having something like this against my name but there is also Vengeance Of Rain to consider because he'll be starting back soon.'
Delpech has been the champion's only jockey through 17 starts since January 2005.
His two-day careless riding charge from the same ride last week had been deferred to allow him to ride until October 14. However, yesterday's penalty will take immediate effect and the careless riding ban will be served concurrently with it.