The stipendiary stewards in Hong Kong get some flak at times for being too tough on the visiting jockeys but they could be running a day-care centre by comparison with their Italian counterparts. Top American jockey-turned-actor, Gary Stevens, had a well-publicised run-in with the officials in Rome recently and has posted a description of the incident on his website. Stevens' mount took off and bolted from a chute on the way to the start of a 1,200-metre event. The jockey had a horror ride at full gallop down to the gates, where horse and rider continued on but soon realised there was nowhere to go. The horse's rapidly slowing momentum was stopped completely as he struck a concrete wall, with Stevens still on board and he must have been thinking he was getting ready to meet the saints. After the collision, the horse was bleeding from the mouth and a shaken Stevens called for a vet and a doctor, declaring both his mount and himself unfit to race. But officials at the start ordered Stevens to remount and ride, telling him the incident should not worry someone of his standing. The horse was apparently well-fancied and his trainer, Bruno Grizzetti - whose horse Maktub veered in and ran through a railing at trackwork last December during international week before running in the Hong Kong Vase - insisted the horse must start. Stevens stood his ground and would not ride but the horse went around with a replacement jockey and finished tailed off in last place. On returning to the jockeys' room, Stevens says he was refused a doctor and a glass of water and immediately summoned before the stewards. He said his failure to ride the horse earned him a 20-day ban at the request of Grizzetti, following a brief hearing during which he was refused an interpreter. He finally made it to a doctor and was given an injection of muscle relaxant to ease his injuries, and the doctor then returned to the stewards with Stevens to plead on his behalf that he had been unfit to ride. Stevens says the stewards threw the doctor's handwritten note to the floor and tossed the pair of them out of the room, calling Stevens a liar and a coward. Stevens has appealed the suspension. Oh, and vowed never to ride in Italy again. With some voices in Hong Kong racing calling for a wider variation in the source countries for stewards here, it's something to think about.