Eric Saint-Martin's Hong Kong career was hanging in the balance last night after the brilliant French jockey was hit with a 16-meeting ban over his riding of Andy Leung Ting-wah's Double Happiness at Sha Tin on Sunday. Saint-Martin, who is sharing the lead in the jockey standings with reigning champion Douglas Whyte, was found guilty by the Hong Kong Jockey Club stewards of failing to take 'all reasonable and permissible measures throughout that race to ensure Double Happiness was given a full opportunity to win or to obtain the best possible placing'. He was suspended with immediate effect until November 25. Leung, who holds a one-winner lead in the trainers' championship, was fined $250,000 after being found to have been party to Saint-Martin's offence. The sum matches the largest ever levied on a Hong Kong trainer, with Patrick Biancone fined the same amount in May 1996 in relation to positive drugs tests in his stable. 'I don't want to say anything about it because I am definitely appealing against the charge,' said Saint-Martin after emerging from the 2.5-hour inquiry at Happy Valley racecourse. Leung, like Saint-Martin, pleaded not guilty at the hearing and is also expected to appeal. Saint-Martin's suspension is a bitter blow to his hopes of gaining an extension to his contract when his term expires on December 15. The Frenchman had started the season in brilliant style with 10 winners and was seemingly determined to clean up his poor disciplinary act after being warned by the Jockey Club's Licensing Committee that in view of his 'disciplinary record, overall attitude and demeanour, should he apply for an extension of his licence, he will be required to show cause why such an extension ought to be granted.' The Licensing Committee is due to meet next Thursday but Jockey Club director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said last night that Saint-Martin's situation was unlikely to be considered at that time if an appeal was pending. 'Let me say that a number of things are yet to happen in regard to this,' he said. 'Firstly, we have not yet received an application for appeal at this stage. Secondly, we have yet to receive any application from Eric Saint-Martin for an extension of his licence. However, if those things do occur, then it would be unfair to him to consider his extension while an appeal process is under way and therefore we would hold off any such decision until a more appropriate time.' Yesterday's inquiry had been adjourned from Sunday, when Double Happiness finished fifth in the second division of the Class Three Elm Handicap. Drawn one in the 1,400-metre race, the gelding was sent off 3-1 second favourite following an impressive win the previous weekend under Saint-Martin. When the inquiry resumed yesterday, the stewards took evidence from Saint-Martin, Leung and the trainer's assistant, Ricky Chow Chung-keung, who was called as a witness by Leung. Chief stipendiary steward John Schreck last night itemised the particulars of the charge against Saint-Martin, stating that: After his mount jumped well from barrier one, he failed to take any measures to maintain his position and allowed Double Happiness to drift back to last and then shift away from the running rail when there was no need to do so. After allowing Strategic Select to go forward of his mount shortly after the start, he failed to attempt to maintain his position behind that runner approaching and passing the 1,000 metres, and instead shifted away from the stated run. After beginning well from stall one, he rode his mount in a manner which resulted in it continually drifting back and eventually settling in last place and away from the running rail at the 800 metres, and continued to allow his mount to travel in such a position until near the 400 metres, and that as a consequence of his riding in the early and middle stages of the race, the chance of Double Happiness winning or obtaining the best possible placing was seriously jeopardised. From just after the start, he shifted Double Happiness wider on the track resulting in the horse covering additional ground when in the opinion of the stewards there was no need to do so. He failed to ride with any initiative, endeavour or vigour at any stage until about the 400 metres, where from a rearward position he shifted Double Happiness to the extreme outside and obtained uninterrupted running. The particulars of the charge against Leung stated that 'the instructions given by him to jockey Saint-Martin before his ride on Double Happiness had contributed to the horse being ridden in such a manner that it was not given a full opportunity to win or to obtain the best possible placing in the field'. Leung's penalty is the highest meted out to a trainer for such an offence, dwarfing the $100,000 fine levied on former trainer Stephen Leung in October 1996, although it still falls short of jockey Greg Childs' record $300,000 fine after he was found to have discussed race tactics with another rider prior to riding Sunline to win the 2000 Hong Kong Mile. Saint-Martin first rode in Hong Kong in the 1993-94 season and has ridden a total of 271 winners. His ban of 16 meetings brings his total number of suspensions to 49 days in the past two calendar years and matches the suspension handed to Englishman Alan Munro in November 1999, after an inquiry into Munro's riding of Silent Partner found him guilty of the same charge. Engelbrecht-Bresges said: 'We have a situation where a jockey has been found to have breached the rules and we have the trainer saying the ride was in accordance with his expectations and the instructions he gave, so he must also have breached the rules.' Although Saint-Martin's suspension is to commence immediately, should he lodge an appeal this morning and be granted a stay of proceedings by the board of stewards, it is possible he could still take National Day mounts at declaration time tomorrow morning. There was no indication from the rider last night whether he would attempt to do so.