Record fine for trainer Leung
Trainer Andy Leung Ting-wah was fined a record HK$250,000 by stewards yesterday for his role in a messy syndicate dispute, but avoided a more serious charge on the same matter and another penalty in a separate inquiry into the handling of one of his runners.
Leung was charged under Rule 150, which covers 'corrupt, fraudulent or improper' acts, with stewards declaring he had participated in a vote by members of the Double Up syndicate, owners of China Good, which constituted a conflict of interest. The vote was to decide on the possible transfer of China Good to another stable. Trainers may not participate in such votes.
The more serious allegation that Leung (pictured) had misled members of the syndicate could not be proven, while the hearing into the handling of the Leung-trained Common Goal in a Happy Valley race resulted in a severe reprimand for jockey Alex Lai Hoi-wing.
A member of the Double Up syndicate, ex-jockey Simon Yim Hin-keung, alleged Leung had entered into an agreement where Yim and three other members of the group had taken over ownership of the horse from the remaining members. This was rejected by Leung and other members of the syndicate, and stewards could not find sufficient evidence to prove the allegation.
Had the allegation been established, Yim might have been charged along with Leung. Chief stipendary steward Kim Kelly said they would have faced 'significant penalties' if they had been found guilty.
China Good is banned from racing until the syndicate dispute is resolved. If the matter is not resolved, the matter will be referred to the board of stewards with the recommendation that the syndicate be dissolved.
In 2008, Leung was issued with a severe reprimand over a similar matter involving the horse Our Lucky Baby, and this was taken into account when the stipes delivered their penalty. It was the biggest fine dished out to a trainer and third biggest to a licensed person, with the top two being to jockeys. Zac Purton was fined HK$300,000 last year for failing to reveal to stewards he was approached by a punter who had previously been jailed under the prevention of bribery ordinance. Sunline's rider Greg Childs was fined the same amount after the 2000 Hong Kong Mile after being found guilty of discussing tactics with another rider before the race.
Leung could face further ramifications from the case, with his conduct to be the subject of a report to the licensing committee.
The 64-year-old is struggling through what should be his second-last season before compulsory retirement, with four wins, the least of any trainer. He began training in 1995-96 and had 15 winners last season.
The ride on Common Goal by Lai last Wednesday was the subject of an inquiry yesterday, with Leung asked to give evidence. With Leung saying he was happy with the ride, stewards questioned Lai as to why he had not taken advantage of a run to the outside at the 500m, and about the rider's lack of vigour on the horse, who finished seventh.
races trainer Andy Leung Ting-wah's stable has won this season