New Zealand jockey Greg Childs was fined $300,000 yesterday by stewards investigating the International races controversy this month. The penalty - the maximum permitted for a single breach of a racing rule - was imposed on Childs after he admitted telling fellow rider Justin Sheehan of his likely tactics in the Hong Kong Mile and later reporting the conversation to journalists. The Jockey Club's race-meeting stewards found Childs guilty of engaging in conduct prejudicial to the good reputation of horse racing in Hong Kong. Childs, 38, who won the race on New Zealand's Sunline, pleaded not guilty at the 2.5-hour inquiry and maintained his innocence afterwards. But Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, director of racing, said the fine reflected the club's determination to maintain the integrity of racing. 'Our position is very clear. There can be no discussion between jockeys of race tactics prior to any race. The reputation of our racing is our most valuable asset,' he said. The inquiry at Happy Valley resulted from comments attributed to Childs in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald following his victory in the $10 million event on December 17. Sunline benefited from a slow early pace to foil local favourite Fairy King Prawn by a short head in front of a Sha Tin crowd of 71,000 and the world's racing media. Childs, whose share of the winning purse for the race was $570,000, was quoted by journalist Darren Prendergast as saying to Australian jockey Sheehan, the rider of third-placed Adam: 'Look, we can't cut each other's throat and challenge for the lead', and, 'I just told him to follow me'. Childs has been adamant throughout the affair that he did not make the remarks as quoted. The Sydney Morning Herald has stood by the quotes but issued a clarification, saying there was no suggestion of a race plan between Childs and Sheehan. Childs said after the hearing: 'I've been fined $300,000. I'm not quite sure under which rule. I only made passing mention [to Sheehan] about how I hoped to ride . . . I did not say what was reported. Those comments were never made. There was no race-fixing and no race plan. I only made a passing comment to Justin Sheehan.' Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said after the hearing that Sunline and Adam had been part of a disputed lead in Australia's prestigious Group One Doncaster Handicap earlier this year. Sunline met one of her rare defeats when runner-up in the mile event and Adam, ridden by Jim Byrne, finished a long way back. Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said: 'Both jockeys cut each other's throats. He [Childs] obviously wanted to sensitise Sheehan to this. This kind of discussion is especially common in Europe but we have other ways here where racing is more competitive and betting more important. Even the perception of race-fixing must not be allowed to come up. Greg Childs was shown translations of articles as we think it is only fair he understands why we think our reputation was hurt.' According to the official race-meeting stewards' report, Childs was found in breach of the Rules of Racing for two reasons. First of all, 'that at some point prior to the running of the Hong Kong Mile, as the rider of Sunline, he spoke with J. Sheehan, the rider of Adam, in an attempt to ensure that Sheehan rode his mount in a manner, which although not designed in any way to affect its performance, would not prejudice the chances of his mount, Sunline'. Secondly, that 'subsequent to the Hong Kong International Race Meeting, he [Childs] had made public to a group of persons which included Australian journalists a conversation he had with Sheehan at some time prior to the running of the Hong Kong Mile'. John Schreck, chief stipendiary steward, who headed the inquiry, said: 'We are satisfied that the penalty imposed was the appropriate one. In arriving at the decision, weight was given to the strong submissions Childs made not to lose his licence for any one period. He's been a jockey for 22 years, he's ridden all round the world, has never been involved in a matter like this and, while he was clearly not happy to be here and pleaded not guilty, his demeanour and attitude was very professional.' Childs acknowledged to the panel that he spoke to Sheehan in the weighing room shortly before the race. He also said he had an off-the-record social conversation with Melbourne-based journalist Tim Habel and two others not known to him - believed to be Prendergast and Mike Hedge of the Australian Associated Press - in the Conrad Hotel during post-race celebrations at around 9pm. The Sydney Morning Herald 's sports editor Ben Coady and Prendergast refused to comment. Other evidence was taken from locally-based riders Robbie Fradd, Douglas Whyte and Weichong Marwing. Former champion jockey Basil Marcus gave his evidence by phone from Sun City, South Africa, while trainer David Hayes also appeared. 'This was to confirm that the jockeys were basically happy with where they were in the race,' said Schreck. Sheehan said: 'Everything was sweet for me. I can tell you now I'm looking forward to coming back next year for International Day. The hearing was very professional and very fair.'