The Hong Kong Jockey Club has responded to criticism of its handling of Saturday's Sha Tin fall, and declared the incident has only reinforced its policy of overseas training for apprentice riders. 'Can you imagine if these boys were riding in Hong Kong from the first day of their careers? These kinds of falls would happen all the time,' said the club's director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'Instead, they begin at lower-grade meetings in Australia, with small fields where the racing is not as tight, and they are able to make some mistakes without the danger there is here with fields of 14 and racing very tight together.' The fall occurred when apprentice rider Jacky Tong Chi-kit pulled Dongguan Excels out to escape a pocket by the 200m mark and went straight into the path of Wayne Smith's ride, Tusitala. Smith crashed to the ground, and another apprentice, Paul Lo Pak-hin, was unseated from A Better Dragon. Tong was given a five-meeting suspension for carelessness and stood down by the club's doctor from his remaining rides at the meeting. 'There are some commentators who apparently feel Jacky Tong was treated too softly in being charged only with careless riding and in being stood down. And others who thought we should have disqualified his horse as well,' said Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'I suppose it might have been within the possible options for him to be charged with something more serious, but that is a matter for the stewards to decide and the panel felt this was a careless-riding offence. As for standing the boy down, I don't feel that it was desirable to have someone riding as upset as Jacky Tong was. His mind would have been on the fall and not focused on his riding.' Engelbrecht-Bresges said disqualifying a horse because it had caused interference was not really covered under the rules in Hong Kong: 'That is something more in the way of the American system.'' Smith was sore and bruised but cleared of anything more serious after X-rays on Saturday afternoon, and expects to take his place on a full book of mounts at tomorrow's important National Day meeting.