Two new riders have been licensed for the coming months, but "Magic Man" Joao Moreira has produced his vanishing act for Caulfield Cup day.
Moreira, Zac Purton (riding Admire Rakti) and Douglas Whyte (Junoob) were expected to present the rare situation of Hong Kong's top three riders competing in Saturday's A$3 million (HK$20.3 million) Caulfield Cup in Melbourne.
With the Jockey Club simulcasting three events from Caulfield, it was expected the presence of the three glamour jockeys would have a positive effect on the betting on the broadcasts, which totalled HK$45 million last year.
But Moreira's intended mount, Gris Caro, was withdrawn due to an injury and the Brazilian elected not to make the long trip to Melbourne, even as desperate efforts were afoot to find him another ride.
Moreira and Williams' mounts were not the only Cup horses affected by soundness issues, with Tommy Berry's ride, The Offer, and the strongly fancied Japanese front-runner Bande (Christophe Lemaire) also needing to pass vet checks before they can to take their place in the field. Advance betting has the mounts of Purton and Whyte equally fancied at 14.0, on the fourth-line behind clear favourite Lucia Valentina (Kerrin McEvoy) at 4.5, Bande at 7.0 and Lidari and Brambles at 12.0.
Closer to home, the licensing committee announced European young guns Umberto Rispoli and Maxime Guyon - well known to Hong Kong fans, trainers and owners from their previous stints - will join the roster at Sha Tin in the winter months.
Rispoli has been licensed from November 15 to January 15, while Guyon will have a ticket to ride from January 1 to March 1, 2015. Guyon was also announced yesterday as the new first jockey for major French owners the Wertheimer brothers, replacing Olivier Peslier.
Meanwhile, stewards found Dicky Lui Cheuk-yin guilty of careless riding at an adjourned inquiry into the check suffered by Stag Knight at Sha Tin last Sunday. Lui pleaded guilty and will serve a three-day ban, starting after racing at Happy Valley on Sunday. Lui is eligible to ride again on October 30.