Lee handed nine-meeting ban after marathon inquiry

LOCAL jockey Danny Lee was yesterday suspended for nine meetings following a protracted stewards' inquiry at Sha Tin.

The race-meeting stewards, chaired by Ronald Arculli and led by chief stipe Bernard Hargreaves, found that Lee had not taken all reasonable measures to insure that his mount, trainer Wong Tang-ping's Great Dancer, achieved his best possible placing in the second event won by outsider Green Supreme.

The hearing lasted a marathon two hours and 10 minutes after the final race and Lee eventually left the course saying: ''I will not be appealing.'' From the stands it looked as if the stewards were right in their decision as Lee appeared to be easy on his mount in the first 200 metres of the straight.

But Lee was not having any of it. He countered: ''We didn't have any room in the first part of the straight and I had to sit and wait till a gap appeared.

''It was tight and I had a horse giving me a bit of interference. I had to wait until I could switch round him before I could get down and really ride him all the way to the line.'' The stewards called Lee into the inquiry room at least four times and on the penultimate occasion asked him if he wanted to enter any plea for mitigation.

''No,'' he told them. ''If you want to punish me, then punish me.'' Wong Tang-ping was also questioned by the stewards who asked him if he was happy with the ride Lee gave his horse.

''I was not 100 per cent happy with the first part of the straight,'' said Wong, ''but he definitely rode him all the way to the line.

''Also, in the first part of the straight, things didn't really go his way.'' Wong went on to stress: ''I'm sure he tried on my horse.'' Last season Lee was banned under a similar charge of not taking all permissible measures to ensure that Super Win Boo achieved the best possible placing in an equitrack event won by Diamond Treasure.

But he won his case on appeal and the verdict was overturned.

The racing highlights of yesterday's meeting were classy victories from David Oughton's Irish import, Ready, in the Centurion Trophy and Patrick Biancone's expensive private purchase, You Bet, in the Kukri Trophy.

Ready looked every inch an International Cup contender for next season when powering to the line under Marshall while the Dickson Poon-owned You Bet won the griffins championship despite finding the 1,200 metres on the short side. He's Derby material in the making.