Bitter Palmer fires final broadside as he quits Macau

Robin Parke

ANGRY Australian jockey Gary Palmer ended his Taipa career yesterday with a bitter broadside against the Macau Jockey Club (MJC) which has prevented him riding there in the past 10 days and failed to pay him compensation for an injury sustained in January.

Palmer flew back to Brisbane where he will have six rides at the Gold Coast tomorrow and another six at Eagle Farm on Monday - despite the fact that he was refused permission to ride at the last three Taipa meetings on medical grounds.

The 36-year-old rider is taking his case to the Asian Racing Conference (ARC) whose secretary, Jamie Barber, is in Hongkong.

Palmer is prepared to fly back from Australia to have his financial problems with the MJC sorted out by the ARC.

Palmer, a former Queensland champion, a five-year veteran of Hongkong and one of the most talented Taipa riders, said last night: ''I am finished with Macau. I have picked up my clearance and am going home.

''What has happened in the last week has completely soured me. I had an accident on January 2, went home to have the best treatment probably available in Australia and then came back to get on with my job.

''I rode 35 horses in trackwork, played golf and tennis and jogged the course, all to get into good shape again.

''I returned with a clearance from a top neurosurgeon which was accepted by acting chief stipendiary steward Tom McGinley and then refused by Director of Racing Peter Smiles.

''He must be a real genius. He knows more than a leading neurosurgeon and orthopaedic surgeon who both passed me.

''And my health certainly hasn't stopped me immediately getting rides back home for the Easter Weekend.

Palmer, who rode with success in Hongkong for Bruce Hutchison and Eric Collingwood, left Macau claiming he is still owed money by the MJC.

He explained: ''I was fully covered by insurance for the accident. Yet I have not received one cent.'' Smiles, a director of security at the English Jockey Club for 17 years, met Palmer on two occasions. He overruled McGinley and instructed Palmer to see another doctor in Macau.

He explained: ''We are very concerned about the fitness of our riders and that was the over-riding consideration.

''Palmer produced a paper dated March 22 stating that he would be fit to ride on April 3. We asked him to see our doctor and I understand the doctor wanted Palmer to go through further tests which Palmer declined.

''We were very concerned about him when he left in January because it seemed to be quite a serious fall.

''It is not just Palmer himself but the other riders in a race in which he takes part. If there happened to be an accident, think of the questions that would be asked the other way round, as it were.'' Palmer said he declined to undergo the tests - painful brain and bone scans - because these had already been done in Australia and had come back clear. That information had already been relayed to the MJC.

Smiles said he could not comment on Palmer's claims that he had not been paid compensation.

''That is out of my hands, that is the responsibility of our personnel department,'' he said.