APPRENTICE Eddie W. M. Lai was last night disqualified from riding for nine months at a twice adjourned inquiry having been found to have stopped Castlepeaktreasure at last Wednesday night's all-weather meeting at Sha Tin. Lai was disqualified under Rule 131 (i) which deals with non-triers and states simply: 'Every horse which runs in a race shall be run on its merits.' In short, the race-meeting stewards found that Lai stopped Castlepeaktreasure in the straight in the contest won by Amazing Grace. Castlepeaktreasure is trained by Lai's retaining handler, Gary Ng Ting-keung. He raced prominently for much of the way on Wednesday night but Lai patently lacked his usual vigorous style on the gelding in the home straight. Lai, 21, was close to tears as he left the course with Ng. Ng was not implicated at the hearing and later he and Lai, who has ridden eight winners and claims seven pounds, confirmed that Lai would lodge an appeal. Ng said: 'My apprentice had a fair hearing but we think the penalty is very severe - too severe - for such an inexperienced rider. 'We will be lodging an appeal against the severity of the disqualification and also hoping that it may be reduced to a suspension so that he can at least ride trackwork.' Lai and Ng then went on to deny that the claimer had stopped the veteran handicapper. 'I'm not saying his riding in the straight didn't look bad,' conceded Ng. 'And when you see the film you can't be satisfied with his performance in that part of the race. 'But you have to take it in context of the whole race. He pushed the horse very hard for the first 450 metres and because of this there was nothing left at the end. 'Eddie is vigorous when he has a chance of winning but he is never over vigorous when he knows their chance has gone. This is what happened on Wednesday. He is not an apprentice who stops horses as is shown by the amount of big-priced winners he has ridden.' By choosing to disqualify Lai rather than suspend him, the stewards have denied the 21-year-old the opportunity of setting foot on a racecourse anywhere in the world. Stipendiary steward, Tony Lam, explained: 'He can't ride trackwork tomorrow morning or Monday morning but if they are very serious about appealing then he will be allowed to be declared for Wednesday night's meeting.' Lai is the second jockey in the past two years to be disqualified from riding following Darren Beadman's ban for his riding of Better Choice in November 1993. Both times the stewards decided the rider was operating in isolation.