Trainers agree to benefits package

Robin Parke

HONG KONG'S 24 licensed trainers voted enthusiastically to accept the Jockey Club's package of medical and related benefits yesterday, bringing to a swift end the possibility of a confrontation with the governing body.

All trainers will now undergo a medical examination as required by the Club as a condition to the granting of next season's licences.

Previously, the Trainers' Association had advised their members not to undertake a medical examination until further notice.

Trainers' Association chairman Brian Kan Ping-chee said: ''We are all very pleased with the outcome. The Jockey Club have considered our position and they have done very well for us.

''It is now finished. All trainers will have their medical examination shortly.'' The trainers will sign an agreement to the Jockey Club's benefits proposal and it will go forward from the Association today.

The Trainers' Association meeting at Sha Tin yesterday morning passed off without incident but Geoff Lane resigned as a vice-chairman of the organisation and was replaced by long-serving Lawrie Fownes.

Meanwhile, the battle for the Melbourne jockeys' title this season has been put on hold following the decision of crack New Zealand jockey Greg Childs to ride here until the end of the season on June 5.

Childs and Damien Oliver, who will also ride here, are far ahead of the field in the Melbourne jockeys' championship.

Childs applied for an extension of his current one-month licence and this was granted yesterday.

''I'm very pleased about it. I decided to put in for the extension after riding at Sha Tin on Saturday night and I did it on Monday,'' said Childs, who has again had a fine start to his Hong Kong stint.

''I would like to win the title in Melbourne but it's not going to matter a lot as both Damien Oliver and myself will be riding here until the end of the season.

''He will be coming here in the middle of the month and he is now suspended so I'm not going to lose any ground,'' said Childs.

The crack New Zealand-born rider is in constant demand by trainers - he has a full book at the Valley tonight - and the decision to extend his licence makes plenty of sense.

With Darren Gauci starting a four-meeting suspension after tonight's Valley card, there will be added pressure on trainers to find top jockeys.

Gauci could go out on a winner as he partners Starbuck in the featured Happy Valley Vase and part-owner of the David Oughton-trained galloper, Matthew Oram, has received a pre-race fillip.

He has a major stake in the Diesis colt, Gneiss, who ran encouragingly in last month's European Free Handicap at Newmarket and followed it up with a record-breaking, five-length win on Bank Holiday Monday at Doncaster.

Gneiss, trained by Julie Cecil, will now be aimed at a Group campaign.

And connections of presently sidelined Invitation Cup winner Motivation also received a boost with the news that Marildo won Sunday's Group One Prix Ganay, beating Arc winner Urban Sea.

Marildo, under Guy Guignard who rode him on Sunday, finished third to Motivation in December's International Cup.

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