Club must be applauded for late jockey change

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2008, 12:00am

The Jockey Club's Licensing Committee deserves a pat on the back for its commonsense decision to approve the application for Brent Stanley (pictured) to come across from Macau to handle Win Practitioner in last Sunday's Queen Mother Memorial Cup.

Though we understand there have been bleatings about this decision in other sections of the media - which was always going to be the case - the recommendation by licensing secretary Kim Kelly to his committee was the correct one.

In any bureaucracy, knowing an outside-the-box decision will attract criticism can often be sufficient to ensure the idea dies before it draws breath. And for refusing to bend to that kind of thinking and its resulting pressure, the Kelly gang deserves our respect.

By the time Felix Coetzee was ruled unfit to ride on medical grounds, all available senior jockeys were taken for the feature race. There were three available riders, all well down the premiership list and all still claiming between three and seven pounds.

Win Practitioner is no ordinary horse, and even horsemen of the calibre of Coetzee, Brett Prebble and Christophe Soumillon can testify that he's a real handful. So handing the reins to one of the second- or third-tier riders in town would have done no one any favours.

It would have needlessly punished the owners, and would ultimately have been bad for any of the three available local riders, who almost certainly would have found the headstrong Win Practitioner too strong and cunning for them. Everyone loses.

Bringing in a Macau jockey of international standing, at the 11th hour, was a suggestion from leftfield, and to a less enlightened administration it would have been doomed to failure. It says a lot about the administrators in question that it was quickly and positively approved. And the fact that Win Practitioner ultimately met severe interference and lost his winning chance was just an unhappy and irrelevant coincidence.


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