Club's new security chief says he will not shirk from tackling thorny issues. Alan Aitken finds out more about the former Hong Kong policeman In Stephen Chandler, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has a sharp sword in a velvet sheath, all the better to keep order. Like predecessor Tim McNally, affability and an easy, talkative style camouflage the razored edge of Stephen Chandler. He's a history master. Upright and intelligent. The chatty barman at the local, the well-read layman on the topics of the day. And he's every good guy hero in every police movie. Dirty Harry, if necessary. 'If I found corruption at the club, I would expose it. Yes, there might be two weeks of bad publicity but trying to hide it means more trouble later - and exposing corruption sends an important message,' he stares coolly. British-born Chandler, 51, has few doubts he was hired to replace former FBI director McNally at the head of security for his similarities to the retiring American. 'Tim moved the perception from one of security sneaking around trying to catch its own people to a perception that security was there to help,' said Chandler. 'I don't see anything I would change.' Nature gave Chandler his comfortable manner but no one survives a life of cops and robbers without a side born of experience as he rose from inspector to an assistant commissioner, with important stints in internal investigations, anti-smuggling, crisis management during Sars and working with the United Nations on refugees. After an ICAC swoop on corrupt officers in the mid-1970s, Chandler was one of many overseas contractors who responded to adverts when Hong Kong's police force was starving for middle management. 'I was young, it sounded fun and I came in 1977 on a three-year contract. At the end, I was given a return airfare home to holiday and decide what I wanted to do,' he recalls. 'I started thinking how much better the Hong Kong weather was and how much more positive people were here - and used the return half.' Fast forward to how the college-fresh bobby came to head security and legal at the powerful Jockey Club. 'Last year, with compulsory retirement five years away, I thought 'what do I want when that happens? I did not want to just tick over. It's not me. I preferred to leave earlier and say to someone 'hey, I've got 15 good years to give you'.' So Chandler investigated jobs overseas and the Jockey Club's wide senses caught wind of it. 'I wondered how I'd fit, but this job has a wider remit than simply security and it's unusual to find a job with so many diverse fields,' he says. 'I oversee millions of dollars on track, over 100 off track centres, 1,300 expensive racehorses and another 350 at riding schools and 22,500 full and part-time employees.' Six weeks in the chair at Sports Road, it has been a deep study for a graduate of the 'dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle' school of horses, with 'not even a seaside donkey ride' to acquaint him with them. 'One thing I've discovered is the passion of people in this business - they really enjoy what they are doing,' he says. 'I haven't seen corruption, but we can't be complacent. There is a hell of a lot of smoke and haze in racing. We want proof before we believe there is a fire, but wherever there is a lot of money people get greedy.' Like McNally, Chandler shakes his head at the view abroad of the security department. 'Security is not this all-powerful department that stops whatever it doesn't like. We make our recommendation, but we can't demand people not be licensed,' he says. 'Sure, there are people I'm not comfortable about, but that doesn't mean they won't ride here. They might come for, say, an international race and that's fine, but we will meet them off the plane, sit them down and say we have concerns and we are watching. Prevention is better than cure.' Some would say the Jockey Club rode a towering turnover tram to a peak on the tips of jockeys and trainers - who in turn gained the rewards which made Hong Kong mecca. And some say that tram was derailed when blind eyes, turned to slings, were replaced by obsession with movements and acquaintances of licensed people. 'I had this conversation with an experienced, well-travelled jockey. He said he'd never seen jockeys here doing the wrong thing, but had known people to ask them what they thought and they'd say 'he's a good horse and he's got a good chance' and what's the harm in that?' Chandler recounts and agrees. 'Nothing. If you talked to several jockeys in the same race they would all say the same thing - their horse can win. 'But it's different if they start saying 'this horse definitely won't win'. Under the rules, a jockey can give an opinion, but he can't receive anything of value in return and he can't bet, because the perception is more important than reality. You can't allow something, even something within the rules, if it looks wrong.' Chandler almost prefers to tackle thorny questions, like whether closing betting accounts in the late 1990s was right. 'Security is now probably harder on that line, not easier,' he concedes with 'sorry' but no apology. 'We need to meet international expectations on money laundering, illegal movement of money and illegal betting. If we won't let somebody have an account because we don't like their ethics, then so be it. If that hurts turnover and we make less money, so be it.' Chandler leans forward to make the point stick. 'This may be the only place in racing where, in membership, we will tell someone 'hey, we know you're a multimillionaire but we don't want you',' he asserts. 'Is it good for turnover? Hell no, and in some places, security might be told to shut up, but integrity is our cornerstone. 'I don't have a veto, but I do have a voice. And I will have evidence, and tell people why they are not wanted, face to face.' Their three kids are grown up and pursuing their own lives as far afield as Dubai, and Stephen and Karin Chandler have no plans to leave Hong Kong or the Jockey Club. 'I'm hoping for at least 10 years. This was a career move - not retirement.'