Apprentice jockey Ben So Tik-hung has been banned for more than a month after falling foul for the second time in a year of the reasonable and permissible measures rule.
Stewards yesterday concluded their inquiry into So's ride on Deposer on March 12 at Sha Tin, when the seven-pound claimer set a torrid pace on the Peter Ho Leung-trained gelding, who weakened quickly out of contention in the straight and was later found to have bled. The race was won by the heavily backed Horseshoe Fortune.
An inquiry on race day was adjourned until yesterday, when the stewards' panel took further evidence from So and Ho before So pleaded guilty to a charge under rule 99 (2) and (5), dealing with his not taking all reasonable and permissible measures to win or obtain the best placing on his mount. He was suspended from race riding for 10 meetings, with the ban to commence after tomorrow night's Sha Tin fixture, and will be out until May 2.
Stewards charged the rider over four aspects of his ride: 1) that, after riding Deposer vigorously in the first 100m to establish the lead, he continued to urge the horse along until the 1,100m mark, setting a very fast tempo and establishing a sizeable margin over the field; 2) that he failed to make any reasonable endeavour to steady Deposer between the 1,100m and 800m and continued to run the lead in a very fast tempo, increasing his margin over the field; 3) that, by failing to make any reasonable attempt to steady Deposer between the 1,300m and 800m, the horse was required to run at a very fast tempo which was contrary to the instructions issued by Ho, which had been for the horse to obtain 'a soft lead'; and 4) that, by riding Deposer in this manner, the horse was required to run unreasonably fast sectionals and was not afforded the opportunity to be able to perform competitively during the latter stages of the race.
It was the second time So (pictured) had breached the rule, after stewards found he had become too far behind the field on the Ho-trained Super Fortune at Sha Tin in April last year before running on strongly just behind the placings and he was banned for eight meetings.
Chief steward Kim Kelly did not wish to comment in depth on the finding, as So still has a right of appeal, but said the fact Deposer had bled in the race had been taken into account. 'Yes, we were mindful of that but it was just one of a host of factors in the race and in the riding of the horse that were considered in the matter.'