THE untidy inquiry into the fall of Gerald Mosse and King Prawn at Happy Valley last week suggests that more stringent rules of procedure must be adopted by the Stipendiary Stewards panel of the Jockey Club. The facts are well known: Mosse took a heavy fall from King Prawn and suffered a broken collarbone; an inquiry was opened and adjourned until such time as evidence could be taken from Mosse; the inquiry was then resumed at Sha Tin on Saturday but withoutMosse. The French rider had returned to his native country the previous evening with permission from the Stewards - although this necessary clearance apparently came with Mosse virtually at the airport. However, he was in need of further medical attention, which should be the overriding criterion, so nothing need be said further on the granting of permission, even though Mosse was required to give evidence less than 24 hours later. Also, given the circumstances of his abrupt departure, it would have been virtually impossible for the Stipendiary Stewards panel to take a statement from Mosse. To an extent, Mosse is slightly culpable here in that he might have appraised the Stewards of his intention to depart somewhat earlier. One assumes he did not simply leave for the airport on the spur of the moment. But by far the most serious part of what is shaping up to be a sorry affair began the following day. The inquiry was reconvened minus the absent Mosse and the other jockeys involved were asked if they had any objection to proceeding in the Frenchman's absence. No objection was raised. But this surely raises a basic, central point. Who polices racing here? Is it the Stewards or do we have a convivial chat to decide on how to carry on? It was an abrogation of responsibility for the Stewards to do other than make the decision themselves - and there should only have been one decision. No inquiry until Mosse returned. At stake here, without evidence from the most obvious central figure, was the likely suspension of a jockey on a careless, or possibly dangerous, riding charge. In the end, Declan Murphy was charged with careless riding and promptly requested that Mosse be called to give evidence. It is fortunate for Murphy that he is an intelligent, quick-thinking individual who was amazed, rather than intimidated, by the Stewards. But surely to charge Murphy and go on to find him guilty without even hearing a word from the rider most positively involved in the affair was totally against the precepts of natural justice. If Stewards are going to listen to jockeys and trainers in inquiries rather than reach their own conclusions from patrol films and the evidence of their own eyes, then they must hear from all directly involved in any particular incident. You can't have it both ways. This was not some humdrum inquiry but one into a serious incident which resulted in a rider being injured and sidelined for a month. And it was an inquiry that in all likelihood would produce a punitive result. To have allowed it to proceed was wrong. It should have been adjourned until the return of Mosse, which is obviously in the foreseeable future. Speed has rarely been an advisable ingredient in the dispensing of justice and that would appear to have been the only consideration applied on Saturday. On a decidedly more pleasant topic, merit marks all round to betting officers and the security department of the Jockey Club. A punting friend of mine mislaid his cash voucher recently, which is akin to dropping $20,000 in a Mongkok street and expecting to get it back. About as rare as a 500-1 winner. But got it back he did, following a back-tracking operation through the complex self-vending machinery and some gutsy efforts by the security department. Nothing like keeping the customers happy.