Sport thrives on new stars, new faces, emerging talent and established heroes. That goes for racing in Hong Kong as much as for Premier League football in England and one unexpected result of decisions taken a year ago by the Licensing Committee would appear to be stifled initiative on the part of trainers. The Licensing Committee can refuse to licence a rider and there is no right of appeal. There need be no explanations - or certainly full reasons - given. Like it or not, that is an accepted fact and Australian jockey Paddy Payne will be in pastures new next September. Last year, Damien Oliver departed these shores and David Hill, retaining trainer of Payne, lost English rider Philip Robinson, who was not re-licensed. In the jockeys' merry-go-round over the past fortnight, Douglas Whyte has gone to Ivan Allan, Eric Saint-Martin to Tony Cruz, Alan Munro to David Oughton and Felix Coetzee to Hill. In the previous season, champion jockey Basil Marcus joined David Hayes following the departure of Oliver. That's a lot of movement - but all internal. There have been sound reasons for these moves, with Hill particularly delighted to get Coetzee, whose talents have been used by all leading trainers. And Hayes had no hesitation in signing on Marcus when the chance so unexpectedly arose. The result is an almost certain crown for both men in their respective championships this season. But in virtually all these moves, there is also an element of safety-first involved. The trainers know they are getting jockeys who have proved they have what it takes to be successful here - and have no problems with the Licensing Committee or, whisper it, the media. They are accepted. In fact, they are all very talented and a credit to themselves and Hong Kong racing. But more than one trainer has confided that, rather than take a chance on bringing in a new face from overseas, he will go for someone already here who knows the ropes. It certainly means a lot less stress. Will a new jockey fit in? Will he live up to his overseas reputation - will he escape a press battering if there are no early winners? It is a very real concern to trainers. Andy T. W. Leung signed up Richard Hughes at the start of the season and they had parted company before Christmas - yet another broken retainer along a road that stretches back a good 20 years. The other new face this season was Robbie Fradd, who will see the season out with Ricky P. F. Yiu before moving on, possibly to Brian Kan Ping-chee or to a Club job. Yiu, in his turn, has contracted Steven King next season - again no stranger to Hong Kong. It does place the onus squarely on the Racing Department to come up with new faces in the Club jockey ranks and work out the right formula for that system. The Racing Department has had its successes, not least the admirable Brett Doyle and, before him, Darryll Holland. But it becomes increasingly tougher and the widely known rules and regulations in Hong Kong, plus the complete lack of a guaranteed future, does not make recruitment any easier. To be fair to the jockeys involved, the Licensing Committee should consider two six-month contracts, if not one for the season. Excellent as our current crop of riders may be, new blood is always vital in any sport. A bit of a giggle over the Jockey Club actually losing money on two races is understandable but it should not disguise that fact that there is a problem. The actual size of Saturday's loss, reported to be more than $12 million, was due in part to a Jockey Club decision some years ago to round up to 50 cents and $1 all dividends. That did away with returns featuring all other cents-based values. There is a proverb, of course, about looking after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. The problem is deeper. Place betting in Hong Kong is not conducted in the same manner as win betting where the amount wagered on an individual horse is divided into the overall pool and the price determined. Place dividends are determined on a 'stakes return' method, where the amount wagered collectively on the first three horses is taken out before dividends are declared. It appears to be a system unique to Hong Kong and makes place wagering in certain types of events a waste of time. A good example was a recent griffin event where a horse went off at 107-1 and returned a place dividend of $12.50 because the only two horses supported in the event filled the first two slots. Place betting on the tote in Britain and Australia operates differently - and more fairly - and should be looked at here.