An already depleted jockey roster was stretched beyond breaking point at Sha Tin yesterday, causing the withdrawal of one runner and forcing officials to relicense veteran Glyn Schofield for Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting to address the shortage of riders.
Sixteen jockeys started the day but when Andreas Suborics was stood down after race four with illness and a dehydrated Douglas Whyte was later indisposed after race eight, Hypersonic was left without a senior rider and was scratched from the final race.
The rules state that 10-pound and seven-pound claiming apprentices are not eligible as replacement riders, meaning Jack Wong Ho-nam was unable to be used as substitute.
Schofield last rode in Hong Kong full-time in 2004-05 but is in town visiting his son Chad, currently one of eight riders suspended, and was called in to fill the breach with Karis Teetan also beginning a ban at the end of yesterday’s meeting.
Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges later announced that there would be a review into the careless riding penalty system, which saw a standard suspension raised from two meetings to three at the start of last season.
“It’s unacceptable to our owners to have this type of situation,” Engelbrecht-Bresges. “For a horse to be scratched from a race because there is no jockey available to ride is not a situation we want.”
After Moreira rode half the card at Happy Valley during the week, he did the same again yesterday at Sha Tin, but admitted later that his task was made easier with jockeys sidelined.
Moreira might look every bit an athlete in the zone but said his latest five-timer was as much about being in the right place at the right time – and simply not being suspended.
“I think I am riding well, but with a lot of jockeys not riding, I was able to be on the right horses – many of my winners, and even some of the ones that didn’t win, would have been favourite whether I was on them or not,” Moreira said after he brought up 65 wins for the season and clinched yet another one-sided Jockey Challenge with 60 points.
As well as three winners for David Hall, Moreira started the day with a win on Michael Chang Chun-wai’s Brilliant Monkeys, who went back-to-back in Class Five, and made all the difference on Tony Millard-trained Hit The Bid.
Brilliant Monkeys had just snuck home by a head last time out after being held up for a run and the short winning margin may have saved the five-year-old at the ratings.
“He only went up five points, and it probably helped him,” Moreira said. “Still, I think he has improved a little bit and now he will go up into Class Four with a light weight and some confidence.”
With eight runner-up placings on his record, Hit The Bid has earned a reputation as a perennial bridesmaid, but with a clean jump and another beautifully judged ride from Moreira, the five-year-old skipped away for a dominant victory.
Millard’s assistant trainer Carol Yu Wing-sze said Hit The Bid had turned a corner in trackwork of late and may keep progressing.
“I ride him every morning and we have worked on getting him to relax,” she said. “Hopefully that means he won’t miss the start as often.”