Hong Kong has suffered its first loss from the jockey ranks for the new season with Australian Brett Prebble standing down from his contract for the opening quarter under unusual circumstances. Unknown to most, Prebble has been riding for the past six years with a three-month suspension hanging over his head - a stretch he received at Ipoh (Malaysia) in 1997 and one he has fought to the highest court in that country. Prebble, 26, accidentally dropped his whip in a minor race at Ipoh and, to his astonishment, was charged by stewards with improper riding. Local wisdom has it that dropping a whip is akin to a jockey throwing away his chance in a race and is invariably penalised heavily. Prebble, who has since gone on to win two Melbourne jockeys' premierships, has fought long and hard to clear his name, starting with an appeal to the Malayan Racing Association, followed by the General Court of Malaysia. Both were unsuccessful. It now sits as the only black mark on an otherwise magnificent career for the young man from Melbourne - a champion apprentice whose professional life has otherwise been on a never-ending upward spiral. 'Our legal advice was that we could beat the decision in the High Court of Malaysia on a point of law,' Prebble's Melbourne-based manager, Des O'Keeffe, said last night. 'And because Brett has always maintained his complete innocence in the matter, he took that option.' However, the issue reached its conclusion in Kuala Lumpur on July 21 when the High Court dismissed Prebble's appeal and ruled that the penalty should stand. The court took into account Prebble's existing contract to ride in Hong Kong from the start of the season on August 31 until December 15, and ruled that the suspension should start on December 16. Prebble contacted Hong Kong's chief stipendiary steward, Jamie Stier, and the Jockey Club's executive director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, to advise them of the ruling of the Malaysian court and offered to stand down from the first-quarter contract. 'Brett values the relationship he has created with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and did not want to embarrass them in any way,' O'Keeffe said. 'We confirmed the offer in writing today and the Jockey Club has accepted Brett's offer to stand down.' Prebble will now ride at the spring racing carnivals of Sydney and Melbourne before beginning his three-month suspension on December 16.