Pair warned over pre-race chatter

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 December, 2009, 12:00am

Two leading apprentice riders have been warned about pre-race discussion of their tactics, as embattled Keith Yeung Ming-lun received another ban, this time for failing to ride to instructions.

Yeung pleaded guilty, under Rule 54 (2) dealing with his obligation to comply with directions of owners and trainers, and was handed a five-day suspension. The apprentice will compete at Sha Tin today before starting the penalty, his fourth in the past six weeks - two for careless riding and another for misconduct after lying to trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak.

On Thursday, stewards reopened the adjourned inquiry into Yeung's handling of Noble Zoom last weekend in the Class Five HP Handicap, when Super Family was allowed a big mid-race lead before winning and Yeung took second position for most of the race before finishing fourth.

Trainer Almond Lee Yee-tat told the inquiry he had instructed Yeung, who is his stable apprentice, to jump Noble Zoom 'to the front and get to the rail and try and lead. If someone goes very fast, just take a box seat'.

Yeung accepted these had been his instructions, but said he had misinterpreted them as he had not been paying attention. He said he had not made a serious attempt to lead as he was wary of getting involved in a duel for the lead with Ben So Tik-hung on Super Family. But stewards said Yeung should have been 'more conscious of the slow sectional times throughout the early and middle stages of the race, and made a far greater effort to ride to his instructions than he did on this occasion'.

Stewards also discovered that Yeung and So had discussed their rides and possible tactics in the apprentice hostel beforehand.

Chief steward Kim Kelly and his panel 'were comfortable that the conversation had not taken place to affect the equity of the race and as such were satisfied the integrity of the race had not been compromised'.

Both apprentices were then advised not to discuss their rides with anyone other than the trainers or owners of their mounts.

Though stewards took no other action, the discussion of riding tactics between jockeys was a reminder of the record HK$300,000 fine issued to Greg Childs nine years ago, when he was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the good reputation of racing after discussing his pre-race Hong Kong Mile tactics on Sunline with another rider.