Mint condition reward for an equine champ

Robin Parke

THE crowd saw a performance of equine excellence, the owners picked up a cheque for $2.1 million - and the hero of the hour was richly rewarded . . . with a Polo mint.

Considering how the cake was carved up, it does look as if River Verdon came out with very little for his sterling efforts in the Champions and Chater Cup but we have it on the best authority that he wasn't complaining.

Joint-owner and Jockey Club Steward Ronnie Arculli was sought out by the media after the brilliant Triple Crown win but looked almost non-plussed.

''It must be one of the very few times that a lawyer is caught short of words. I don't know what to say other than it was absolutely magnificent,'' said Arculli, who then confirmed River Verdon's bonus.

''He really does like them, you know,'' said Arculli, talking of the mint with the hole.

With $18.6 million in stakemoney won, River Verdon is certainly worth a Mint. Of the Royal variety.

AS a start to a new career, it was less than promising. Spare a thought for Horace Lam, maximum claimer with trainer John Moore, whose debut in yesterday's 1,600-metre final event actually lasted for just 200 metres.

That was when unhappy Horace came off Jollity and the Stewards, unable to interview the lad becaue of his injuries, informed Moore that he would not be permitted to declare the apprentice again until he had successfully completed a series of barrier trials.

Young Lam's luckless debut was dramatically different to that enjoyed by Martin Tsang whose first race ride was on Golden Computer and resulted in a win two weeks ago.

LOCAL rider Jackie C. K. Tse will be making holiday plans sooner than he probably expected following his efforts in the fifth race yesterday.

Tse, drawn wide on Fook Well, came across sharply and caused Glory Of India, On The Beat and Lucky Glory to be checked.

The Stewards stood him down for five days for careless riding so his season ends after Wednesday's Happy Valley night meeting.

Apprentice Vicki C. W. Choi, who is employed by a variety of trainers and sees plenty of action, was also suspended yesterday for three days on a careless riding charge.

Tse's premature departure and the enforced absence of Choi leaves us with something of a jockey shortfall. Currently suspended are the excellent Darren Gauci, Danny Lee and Rambo Tse Wai-ho.

But we certainly cannot complain - the Stipendiary Stewards, who have taken considerable stick, are clearly doing their job.

DON'T be surprised if Lance O'Sullivan is saddled with the nickname Superman. According to that local racing booklet bible, Lowan's, the popular New Zealand champion was riding New Leaf in the third event at Sha Tin yesterday which went off at 2.25 pm.

That was just 10 minutes before O'Sullivan did jump in Tokyo in the Yasuda Kinan on Winning Partners. And his colours were pink with grey chevrons not blue tights, red shorts, yellow belt, red cape and red S inside shield on chest.

CONGRATULATIONS go out to Clint Hutchison who turned 21 yesterday.

Clint is the son of long-serving trainer Bruce and is a regular at the track, helping out Dad.

He was on hand, as usual, at Sha Tin yesterday but not quite as chipper as normal. Nothing to do with a couple of fancied runners not living up to expectations . . . more the repercussions of a Friday night shindig to officially celebrate his majority.