Hong Kong-based jockeys making Group One forays to other jurisdictions will be restricted under new Jockey Club guidelines, which will also have serious implications for some of the regular missions undertaken in recent years.
Recent trips undertaken by Joao Moreira, Zac Purton, Brett Prebble, Douglas Whyte, Nash Rawiller and others will cease to be available under new rules for permission to travel, which will come into force on January 1, 2018.
The rules have been introduced after a spate of suspensions and injuries suffered by jockeys on trips to Australia impacted on meetings back in Hong Kong.
This weekend, Whyte will ride Scales Of Justice at Perth’s Ascot racecourse in the biggest race in Western Australia, the Railway Stakes, which he won last year on the same horse and he also won a Group One in Perth on Moriarty several years ago.
However, the new policies will rule out permission for jockeys to travel to any Group One events in Perth, Brisbane or Adelaide, or any overseas trip with a primary mission of a ride in a Group One not listed in the Top 100 Races in the world, as published by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA).
That rules out the Golden Slipper, won from a Hong Kong base in the past decade by Prebble and Glen Boss, while other Australian races not on that list and won by Hong Kong-based jockeys recently include the Australian Guineas, Kingston Town Stakes, Australia Stakes, Epsom Handicap, Champagne Stakes and J J Atkins Stakes.
The exceptions to the new policy will be if a jockey has been engaged to ride a Hong Kong-based horse campaigning overseas, riding in a Jockey Club-sponsored race or Group One which is being simulcast by the club or if a rider travels to compete in a jockeys’ invitation race series.
However, the language of Monday’s press release from the club does appear to leave the door ajar for discretionary permission, stating that the target races will “generally be limited” to the IFHA Top 100.
Jockeys have been asked to be discerning about the additional rides taken at overseas meetings and they will be limited to one overseas meeting on trips out of Hong Kong.
That closes a gap, after Rawiller rode in a Group One at Moonee Valley the night before the Cox Plate recently and requested permission to ride in a support event the following day, which was refused and another occasion when Moreira rode Friday night in Melbourne and Saturday in Sydney.
But Melbourne trips, even for legitimate targets like Caulfield and Melbourne Cups or Cox Plates under the policy are also, potentially, under the microscope.
Racing rules in the state of Victoria require jockeys to take any riding penalties, like careless riding bans, immediately, unless they are engaged for upcoming rides which have already been publicly notified.
Moreira and Chad Schofield recently were forced to miss Hong Kong meetings after being suspended in the Caulfield Cup on the Saturday, when published declarations for the following Wednesday at Happy Valley were not scheduled until the Monday morning.
Trainers and owners were left scrambling at the last minute for jockeys. Had the riders been suspended in other Australian states, those penalties could have been deferred so as to allow them to keep engagements made but not yet published for imminent meetings.
The club said it will “liaise” with foreign jurisdictions to overcome any such limitations in the local rules but, presumably, permission will be refused if no accommodation is agreed.
However, Hong Kong chief steward Kim Kelly said he is confident those types of issues can be ironed out satisfactorily.
“I have had preliminary discussions with the chief steward in Melbourne, Terry Bailey, and we will have further discussions when he is here for the meeting of the International Harmonisation of Raceday Rules Committee meeting at international time,” Kelly said. “Racing Victoria has also indicated a willingness to discuss how a mutually beneficial agreement on this issue of penalty deferment can be arrived at, and I will be having the same discussions with any other jurisdiction where a similar policy exists.”