The Hong Kong Jockey Club is comfortable with its efforts to achieve transparency in bloodstock dealings despite the strong penalties meted out in Australia in the past 10 days over two horses sold into Danny Shum Chap-shing’s stable.
In a case in Sydney involving the horse now racing here as Lucky Year, the assistant to premier trainer Chris Waller, Liam Prior, and the media commentator and former part-owner of the horse, Richard Callander, were each disqualified for six months after not revealing to the ownership group the full price received for the sale – a discrepancy of A$60,000 (HK$353,000) – while jockey Glyn Schofield was fined A$10,000, equalling the commission he had received for brokering the deal.
The club’s executive director, Racing Authority, Andrew Harding said yesterday that “transparency is the key in all these dealings and we have laid out codes of practice that we believe cover these matters”.
“As far as we are concerned, this is a matter for Australian authorities, not for the Hong Kong Jockey Club as there has been no impropriety within our jurisdiction,” Harding explained. “We have spoken to the Hong Kong owners and in neither case are they unhappy – not about the price they paid, the horse they got or the role played by Danny Shum.
“Last year, we laid out written codes of conduct for jockeys and trainers and spelt out their obligations with regard to owners and as long as those requirements are met then there is no issue as far as we are concerned.”
On Monday, Melbourne trainer Brent Stanley was disqualified for nine months for not revealing to the horse’s Australian owners the true price paid by the Hong Kong owners for Dancing Flames, keeping A$50,000 for himself in addition to a A$20,000 commission. In this case, Schofield was involved again in a brokering role and fined A$50,000 for the A$20,000 commission he received.
Under Australian rules, jockeys are not permitted to play a role in bloodstock dealings without the permission of the racing authorities and Schofield was found to be guilty of failing to get that permission. However, the disqualified participants were penalised for retaining the difference or some part thereof between the price reported to the Australian owners and the price actually paid by owners in Hong Kong.
Harding said that the club has no problem with commissions paid to trainers as a component of a sale, provided they are disclosed, and although the club would never give permission for jockeys to act as agents, there are circumstances whereby commissions might be paid to riders too.
“We understand that an owner might ask a jockey to look at or ride a horse that he or she is considering buying, to get an opinion on the horse. As far as we’re concerned, it would fall under a private agreement if the owner paid the jockey for that opinion,” Harding said.
“Transparency is the key in all these dealings.”