Banned Saint-Martin eyes return

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2009, 12:00am

Within minutes of incurring another one-month ban yesterday, French jockey Eric Saint-Martin submitted his application to return for next season.

Saint-Martin was suspended for a month, backdated to Friday, after pleading guilty to breaching Rule 155(27), dealing with a licensed person's obligation to attend or remain at any inquiry as required by the stewards.

Saint-Martin left Sha Tin last Friday after being requested to act as a witness in the inquiry that led to Douglas Whyte being suspended for careless riding in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup.

It is understood the Frenchman was required to wait for over an hour for the hearing to resume and, during that time, returned to his apartment next to the course.

Upon the jockey's return to the inquiry, dressed in beachwear, stewards concluded the Whyte inquiry then questioned Saint-Martin (pictured) about his conduct. They were unimpressed with his jovial response when asked why he had left - a response he later admitted to be untrue - before he was fined HK$20,000 for misconduct and stood down from riding on Sunday.

At yesterday's inquiry, stewards took evidence, including a written submission from Saint-Martin, before the jockey's guilty plea.

'Yes, I pleaded guilty. They said I left the inquiry room and it's true, so I was guilty,' said Saint-Martin, who will be out of action until June 1. 'They have a rule for this and we play by their rules. I don't ever cause trouble but when trouble comes to me I take responsibility and take care of it. I don't understand it, but I accept it.'

Stewards said they took Saint-Martin's contrition into account, but were also mindful of his conduct history.

With over 400 winners, Saint-Martin's record is outstanding, but the ban is another in a long list.

In February, Saint-Martin had successfully shown cause before the licensing committee to continue in Hong Kong after his fourth improper riding ban, and he has been warned in the past about his disciplinary record.

Nevertheless, Saint-Martin scotched rumours of his impending retirement by submitting his application for another season yesterday: 'I asked the club if I should apply and was told I was welcome to, so now we will see what happens.'