Five jockeys have been stood down from Wednesday night’s Happy Valley meeting after Victor Wong Chun became the first Hong Kong rider to test positive for Covid-19 on Monday.
Wong, who managed a second aboard Super Winner with his only ride at Sha Tin on Sunday, as well as the other jockeys in his pod – Jerry Chau Chun-lok, Alfred Chan Ka-hei, Alex Lai Hoi-wing and Dylan Mo Hin-tung – have all been sidelined.
The Jockey Club confirmed Chau, Chan, Lai and Mo all returned negative tests on Monday but officials are taking no risks.
“The club has separated the jockeys into multiple separate groups both on race days and for operational management on non-race days,” the Jockey Club said in a statement.
“In order to eliminate any risk, regardless of how remote, the club has decided that these four jockeys will also stand down from the race meeting on March 23 as well as trials and trackwork activities.
“We will ensure that they will undertake the daily PCR test as mandated in the coming days and decide the next steps in light of the test results. We will make a further announcement in due course.”
Wong has been stood down until further notice and is isolating at home in Tai Po.
The absence of the five jockeys decreases the riding ranks to 17 for the midweek meeting and trainers were scrambling on Monday afternoon to find replacements.
Wong had been booked for two rides, while Chau was set to partner eight gallopers, Mo had three rides, Chan had two and Lai just the one.
While some trainers have caught Covid-19 recently, Wong’s positive test is the closest the pandemic has come to threatening the continuation of racing.
Derby stars eye next step
Next month’s Champions Day will be devoid of the colour and intrigue that comes with international participation but the quinella pair from Sunday’s BMW Hong Kong Derby look more than capable of making up for a considerable amount of the lost sparkle.
Within moments of snaring his first Derby, trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing put the Group One QE II Cup (2,000m) on the table for Romantic Warrior and the magnificent four-year-old will look to become the first galloper since Werther in 2016 to do the double in the same season.
Victorious jockey Karis Teetan confirmed Shum’s plan and is excited about the prospect of chasing more glory aboard a horse he hopes to maintain an association with for seasons to come.
“I spoke to Danny and he said the horse has pulled up well and the QE II Cup is the plan and we will focus on that now,” Teetan said on Monday.
“Of course there will be no Japanese horses so it could be an open race. I can’t see why he shouldn’t take the next step, there’s a bit of quality about him and he’s a fighter.
“I think with time he will improve again. I’ve won two major races on this horse now and hopefully I’ve got a nice horse going forward and I can stick with him.”
WHAT. A. RACE!? 😱— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 20, 2022
It's a vintage renewal of the 145th @BMW Hong Kong Derby as Romantic Warrior narrowly overhauls California Spangle for @KarisTeetan & Danny Shum. 🔥#4YOSeries | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/A2h4SqW1FG
California Spangle will also step up to Group One level on Champions Day after finishing a head adrift of Romantic Warrior on Sunday but trainer Tony Cruz is yet to decide between the QE II Cup or the step back in trip for the Champions Mile.
“The horse has pulled up very well and he did fight back when Romantic Warrior came along, so he didn’t give up,” Cruz said.
“I’m very happy with the race and we’ll work out where we’re going to go. We’ll definitely run on Champions Day but no plans yet for exactly what distance because he seems to be able to run anywhere. What is his proper distance? I’m not really sure yet.”