Jockeys adopted a wait-and-see view after the new penalty system was unveiled by Hong Kong Jockey Club management yesterday at a pre-season briefing. The scheme was outlined at the Sha Tin meeting, which also included discussions on jockey sponsorship, on and off-track conduct and use of the press to air issues. 'Probably, fines are not to everyone's liking, but we expect that - after all, whether the jockey is fined or suspended, we are talking about a punishment not a reward,' said Jockey Club executive director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'I sensed a mixed view - some concerned at possible hurt to their pocket, and others thinking we have struck a balance, which is what we hope for,' he said. The racing stewards announced the policy last week. It will penalise riders for minor offences with a two-day ban plus escalating fines, with fines for leading jockeys to be greater than those for lower-ranked riders. Champion Douglas Whyte will face fines in units of $40,000 a day under the plan. 'I would rather be riding than out, but they are very hefty fines in my position, and I hate the fines not being the same for everyone,' said Whyte. 'For example, if I was to get a two-day ban and an $80,000 fine for a second offence, well, I don't know that I'm guaranteed to ride $80,000-worth of percentages for the two meetings,' he said. 'But the stewards' arguments have been well-researched and let's see how the system works - if only getting two days out meant being on a big-race winner instead of suspended, then it can be a blessing.' Former champion Robbie Fradd said: 'They are quite heavy fines, but I think you'll find most of the guys would prefer to be riding than suspended. In the end, I guess it's up to us to not get penalised.' 'It seems pretty reasonable to me and if we don't get careless riding charges to begin with, it isn't an issue,' echoed Dwayne Dunn. Englishman Wendyll Woods was the second most-suspended rider last season, with 23 days out, and believes the change is 'heading in the right direction'. 'The chief steward presented it as a win for all concerned and they do seem to have done their homework. I think we have to give it a chance to work,' he said. 'While nobody likes fines, I think it's an important point to keep us riding, for the club and for ourselves. Anywhere else in the world, a five-day ban is a week's suspension, but here it's a very long time.' German Torsten Mundry, after a stop-start season, said: 'I want to see how it works. I suffered from time out last season and it is difficult to get momentum when you come back. As for fines, perhaps they can offset our tax, and you can't do that with a suspension.' While Engelbrecht-Bresges admitted the club wanted balance on penalties, the issue of sponsorship of individuals was clear cut. 'I was quite blunt to the riders - it is out of the question,' he said. 'We have more financial commitment to our brand than probably any jurisdiction in the world and we are attracting quality sponsors as a result, at a time when turnover is falling and sponsorship offers a new and important revenue stream. We are not willing to risk that for the sake of relatively minor sponsorships available to only a few riders.'