Piggott to stay on for Grand Nat simulcast

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 February, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 February, 1994, 12:00am

THE good news for Lester Piggott - and the rest of us - yesterday wasn't his outing in the Derby but the fact that he's going to be with us for another month or so.

The legendary Long Fellow was keen to continue on in Hong Kong after his month-long stint ends early next month and the Jockey Club have wisely decided that he shall.

Lester can expect to be around to ride at the Grand National meeting in early April, a fact that will please the sponsors and English bookmakers who are betting on two Hong Kong races which will go out live on the BBC sports programme, Grandstand.

Director of racing, Philip Johnston, said: ''We have decided to extend the licences of Lester Piggott and Eric Saint Martin.'' The French jockey is here as a temporary replacement for Felix Coetzee but the South African's desire to return appears to be in some doubt.

Anyway, with the wealth of Northern Hemisphere riding talent which disappeared after yesterday's meeting - Swinburn, Mosse and Munro - it's good to have two from that neck of the woods still with us.

IT hasn't been quite the winter stint that Alan Munro had hoped for and, judging by previous form, expected.

He took the place by storm last season but had to settle for seven winners this time around.

And he was left to reflect midway through yesterday afternoon what might have been.

Alan, you see, turned down the ride on Derby winner Super Fit and decided instead to partner Dashing who finished sixth behind the Lawrie Fownes-trained winner.

Not that Gerald Mosse was all that keen to ride the eventual winner of Hong Kong's richest domestic race.

Caspar Fownes, assistant to his dad, had to, almost literally, twist the Frenchman's arm to get him to agree.

Said the popular Cas: ''I told him it genuinely had a chance and he looked at me as if I was mad. I told him that I couldn't say it would definitely win but I convinced him it would really run well. In the end he took the ride - and now we're all laughing.'' Well, not quite all. Alan Munro wasn't exactly breaking out in fits of merriment.

THE slightly more rotund half of this writing duo had a call from an acquaintance of very long standing - something over two decades - early last week.

None other than Gary William Moore, of fond memory, who graced our racetracks and won heaven knows how many titles before he fell somewhat foul of officialdom. We all like a bet but, unfortunately, jockeys aren't meant to do it and Gary has had a few years to reflect on that particular racing rule.

Anyway, Gary is a man about town these days and avid readers of this column will recall that Lester Piggott bumped into him recently.

For our readers - and we are happy to oblige - Gary wishes it to be known that when he finishes his disqualification next January he will be at the wise old age of 41.

''And I will be riding again. I am keeping very fit and I am now 121 lbs and that's without doing too much. I am determined to ride again,'' said Gary.

The odds are that it will be in Europe where Gary is also extremely well known and respected.

Say what you will, but Moore was a very important and lively part of Hong Kong racing for a very long time. It will be good to have him back - officially that is - in just 10 months' time.

IT'S a great pity and surely avoidable that Derby Day and the final day of the Hong Kong Golf Open should clash.

There are not that many great sporting occasions in Hong Kong but the Derby certainly is one of them and, naturally, so is the Open which attracts some very big names.

And there are a very sizeable number of racing fans, licensed personnel and Jockey Club officials who would dearly have loved to be at Fanling yesterday.

There is not a lot the Jockey Club can really do about it as the Derby is programmed for the final Sunday in February. But maybe some high-level talk might persuade the golfing powers that be to switch their tournament.