Last week's licensing committee announcements have highlighted once again how the world has altered at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Top Sydney jockey Chris Munce did not spare the feelings of Jockey Club officials after a disappointing three-month stint in 1999. He had complained in the Australian press about the handling of jockey numbers in Hong Kong during those three months - specifically changes made mid-stint which starved he and his fellow visitor, New Zealand's Grant Cooksley, of opportunities. At this column, we fully believe that it is correct to be judging cases on their merits and the ability and suitability of the jockey for the job, but let's face it, things often operate on a more subtle basis. Once upon a time, that public rebuke would have earned Munce a lifetime 'not to tour again' stamp across his application file for Hong Kong, regardless of his talent or work ethic, but there he was named among the club riders to commence next season. In the recent past, we have also seen jockeys with drug positives and so-called 'security concerns' relicensed here - which certainly would not have happened in the old days. Another very high-profile Australian jockey continues to receive plenty of airtime in the rumour mill to suggest that he may come as a retained jockey next season. His name on an application for licensing would certainly offer the greatest challenge yet to the new enlightened policy.