Clampdown on riders who hit brake too early
The epidemic of careless-riding suspensions this seasons has been well recorded but also in unchartered territory is the number of jockeys who stop riding short of the line, with Anthony Delpech yesterday becoming the latest victim of the stipendiary stewards' wrath.
Delpech pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ride Super right to the line in the fifth event. The gelding sailed down the outside fence and was beaten a neck for third by Rampant Lion on the other side of the track.
However, the penalty of a five-meeting suspension came as a shock to the former South African champion, who has endured a checkered season. 'It's very upsetting, this is my sixth suspension - I've spent more time on the sidelines than riding,' he said.
Chief steward Jamie Stier said his panel could not understand why there had been such a spate of incidents of jockeys not riding all the way to the line.
Shane Dye is currently doing a 10-meeting stretch for the same offence, while Eddie Lai Wai-ming is serving a three-meeting ban. Yesterday, Delpech was not alone as racing's lawmen found against Felix Coetzee in the eighth event, having finished sixth on Deminer.
Coetzee pleaded not guilty and argued a defence but the stewards found the charge sustained and fined him HK$20,000.
Stier said the variation in penalties reflected the severity of the offence, in terms of the horse's finishing position.
It may have looked a common win, but Christophe Soumillon said there were better days ahead for trainer Caspar Fownes and owner Peter Law Kin-sang with Jackpot Delight.
The New Zealand private purchase broke through for his first win at the fourth time of asking in the Babington Handicap. And while the margin was only a head, Soumillon said it was a stronger performance than it appeared.
'Every time those horses came at him, he gave me a bit more and I'm sure he had more there if it had been needed,' Soumillon said. 'The Derby comes up pretty quickly for these horses but for whatever that holds for him, I'm sure you'll see the best of him in another year or so. He's a nice horse, there is a good bit more to come with him.'
The Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Great Hero is looking a revelation since his shift to the all-weather course last week, and underlined it with a hollow victory in the Lyttelton Handicap (1,650m) on the surface yesterday.
Jockey Brett Prebble planted the son of Easy Rocking on the speed and once there, Great Hero was never going to lose, clearing out by 51/2 lengths at the finish.
Man said he had really discovered Great Hero's affinity for the dirt surface by accident after taking him back to the trials to improve his relationship with the starting gates.
'He had won on the grass so I always ran him on the grass. But when he trialled on the dirt recently, he trialled so well that he showed gave me confidence for running on the dirt as well,' Man said. 'He ran very well last week over 1,200m after being on the outside all the way and I knew he wanted longer. It was not originally my idea to run him again this week but I watched him after last week's race and he was eating so well and feeling well, I entered him again.'
Australian Glen Boss kept his score for the season ticking along to 18 at Sha Tin yesterday, taking the Class Five second event over 1,800m aboard Fishking Excellent and maintaining what is becoming a strong partnership with the form trainer, Ricky Yiu Poon-fie.
Boss has already won on Sweet Baby twice, and Rockalot for the yard and much-improved Fishking Excellent made it four from 21 rides for Yiu.
'Ricky's horses are really going well so it's a pleasure to be riding for him and Fishking Excellent's effort today was pretty tough,' Boss said. 'I was happy to have a leader when Sun Awesome took up the front but he caved in at the 800m and left us out in front a long way from home. He showed plenty of courage to win.'