Blake Shinn has been fined HK$600,000 for “recklessly contravening Covid protocols”, with the Australian pleading guilty to breaching Jockey Club rules by visiting a number of Hong Kong nightspots.

Shinn, who tested positive to Covid-19 on Tuesday, has missed the past three meetings through suspension and admitted to spending time at nightclubs and bars during that period.

While the most suffocating of the restrictions the Jockey Club placed its key participants under during Hong Kong’s fifth Covid-19 wave were lifted in April, chief steward Kim Kelly explained in a statement that jockeys are still limited in what they can do at a time when Hong Kong’s daily case count is down in triple figures.

“In an email and via an instant messaging application on April 22, [Shinn] was notified of the restrictions placed upon all jockeys in respect of general places which they were not permitted to attend, which included ‘bars’ and ‘nightclubs’, hereinafter referred to as ‘bars’,” the statement said.

Blake Shinn after a recent winner.

“Whilst serving a period of suspension from riding in races for careless riding he did, during at least the period commencing on Sunday May 29 through until Sunday June 5, attend a number of bars, such attendance being in breach of the direction previously provided to all jockeys on April 22 which prohibited attendance at such venues in accordance with club-mandated Covid protocols.

“By recklessly contravening the club-mandated Covid protocols when attending a number of bars during the aforementioned period, he did place at significant risk the measures imposed by the club to ensure the continuation of horse racing under the control and direction of the club.”

While the Jockey Club confirmed Shinn spent time with other jockeys and club employees during his nights out, Kelly said that “Shinn met with two jockeys licensed by the club on the evening of Sunday June 5 at a venue which was acceptable under the club-mandated Covid protocols. As such, the two jockeys did not breach the protocols”.

Shinn took the chance to let his hair down after battling through months of living within the Jockey Club’s “racing bubble”, an experience that took such a mental toll on the 34-year-old that he will end his Hong Kong stint at the end of the season and return to Australia.

Blake Shinn celebrates his Champions & Chater Cup victory aboard Russian Emperor.

Shinn, who has won three Group Ones this season, is in the midst of seven days of self-isolation and he will not return to the races until the Sha Tin meeting on June 19.

“I’m definitely going to hang around until the end of the season and do my best to end things on a high note – I’m determined to put this behind me and finish the season the right way,” said Shinn, adding that he was feeling flat on Thursday but was hopeful he was through the worst of his Covid-19 symptoms.

Shinn joins trainers Dennis Yip Chor-hong and Frankie Lor Fu-chuen as key Hong Kong racing participants to receive hefty financial penalties for Covid-related misdemeanours, with that pair also HK$600,000 lighter off after “racing bubble” breaches during the height of the Jockey Club’s lockdowns earlier this year.

“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,” Kelly said.

“Rule 23 (1) provides that the maximum monetary penalty able to be imposed by the stewards is HK$600,000. Shinn was advised of his right of appeal against this decision.”