The Jockey Club will mount a worldwide search for a new chief stipendiary steward following the announcement that Bernard Hargreaves will quit at the end of his contract on December 29. Hargreaves' nine-year stay with the club, as racing secretary prior to stipendiary duties, ends by mutual agreement but there is no question of localising the top post. The chief executive of the Jockey Club, Lawrence Wong, said at his pre-season press briefing yesterday: 'This is a position for a very experienced person and could not be filled by a local person. We will be conducting a worldwide search for the best person.' Hargreaves, a popular and respected official, will return to England's West Country when his tenure finally ends and he spoke yesterday of the decision to end his time in Hong Kong. 'I really came to the decision in June and it was not an easy one. I am talking about my side of it because the contract was up for renewal and I had to make a decision before going on holiday. 'I have had a tremendous time in Hong Kong and enjoyed it thoroughly but I do believe the time is right for a return to England. It is a time of change for Hong Kong and the Jockey Club and I was simply not sure if I wanted to be part of that,' he added. Hargreaves' decision was almost certainly influenced by health concerns which saw him miss all the early part of last season - although he is happily now looking better than ever. 'I feel fine, really good. But it was a bad time at the start of last season and it does tend to make one think a bit. The health factor did come into it,' he said.