Frankie Lor Fu-chuen has been fined HK$600,000 for breaching the Jockey Club’s “racing bubble” by hosting visitors at his place at Sha Tin racecourse, one of whom subsequently tested positive to Covid-19.

Lor pleaded guilty to acting in a manner prejudicial to the proper conduct of racing after having guests, believed to be family, at his place on February 17 and 25 at a time when trainers and jockeys are not allowed to mix with people they do not live with.

“After considering all the relevant matters associated with the penalty including, but not limited to, the significant potential ramifications of a breach of the rules and protocols upon racing continuing and the need for deterrence, the stewards were of the opinion that a fine of HK$600,000 was the appropriate penalty,” chief steward Kim Kelly said in a statement.

Lor has been temporarily removed from his on-course accommodation, which the Jockey Club provides for key participants, and will be unable to attend the races for at least a week.

Lor could face disciplinary action after potential breach of ‘racing bubble’

“Permitting those persons to enter and remain in his apartment when such persons were, at all relevant times, not household members resident in the apartment was contrary to a direction given to him and all licensed trainers and assistant trainers in writing on February 14 that cross-household gatherings should be suspended,” Kelly said.

“By permitting those persons to enter and remain in his apartment, he did place at risk the racing bubble imposed by the club to ensure the continuation of horse racing under the control and direction of the club having regard to one of those persons subsequently testing Covid positive on February 26.”

Remarkably, Kelly confirmed that Lor acknowledged in a document submitted to the Jockey Club on February 17 “that he understood the club-imposed restrictions and protocols placed upon him”, the same day as one of his breaches.

Lor’s actions have left many within the bubble in disbelief after months of operating under suffocating restrictions in a bid to give the sport the best chance of continuing.

Lor, who sits second in the trainers’ premiership with 48 winners, confirmed he has no intention of appealing the fine.

Shinn snags Irishman

Blake Shinn has been rewarded for his recent run of good form, with the Australian picking up the ride on leading Hong Kong Derby contender The Irishman.

Shinn partnered the Caspar Fownes-trained Rocket Spade into ninth behind California Spangle in Sunday’s Classic Cup, the second leg of the four-year-old series, while The Irishman ran on solidly for sixth after being taken back to last from gate 14 by Vincent Ho Chak-yiu.

Shinn has won Group Ones aboard Sky Field and Russian Emperor this season and piloted Richard Gibson’s smart three-year-old Cordyceps Six to victory at Sha Tin on Sunday.

“It came as a bit of a surprise but it’s a great pickup, I’m looking forward to riding him,” he said.

Ho and Shinn will swap places, with the leading local jockey to partner Rocket Spade, while there doesn’t look to be any jockey movement among the other top Derby hopes.

After tasting success in the Classic Cup for the first time, Zac Purton confirmed he will be sticking with Tony Cruz’s California Spangle.

Karis Teetan is expected to retain the ride on Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Romantic Warrior after finding himself stuck four-wide without cover for much of the Classic Cup aboard the $3.60 second favourite, who dug deep to produce an impressive fourth despite the circumstances.

Alexis Badel sticks with Sunday’s runner-up Turin Redsun, from the Douglas Whyte yard, and Derek Leung Ka-chun will stay aboard Money Catcher after a Classic Cup third at long odds.

Senor Toba was another galloper running on nicely, finishing fifth under Joao Moreira, and the Brazilian will look to team up with Caspar Fownes for Derby glory for the second consecutive season come the city’s most prestigious race on March 20.