Hugh Bowman has replaced Jye McNeil in Wednesday night’s Longines International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC), with the rider stood down from the prestigious competition after testing positive to Covid-19 on Tuesday.
Under Hong Kong’s Covid rules, McNeil should complete his isolation and be free to return to work on Tuesday morning. However, the Jockey Club decided to remove the 27-year-old from the line up before Monday’s declarations.
“The club’s chief medical officer has been monitoring Jye McNeil’s health status since testing Covid-19 positive on Tuesday, including ongoing testing throughout the week,” the Jockey Club said in a statement.
“A decision on his participation in the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship has been deferred to the latest feasible timing within the parameters of the ride allocation system for the IJC.
“Based on the results to date it has been assessed that McNeil cannot be declared [on Monday]. Hugh Bowman has been selected to instead participate in the IJC.”
The removal of McNeil follows hot on the heels of first Zac Purton and then Antoine Hamelin being allowed to accept mounts while still in Covid isolation, with those jockeys given standby riders in case they did not test negative in time.
McNeil has not been given that option, however, and it continues a tough Hong Kong stint for the Australian, who is yet to land a winner from 29 rides since arriving in the city in early November.
McNeil’s short-term contract expires on December 22, giving him only four more meetings to break his Hong Kong duck before heading home for Christmas.
Bowman enters the IJC in red-hot form after riding six winners from the first five meetings of his three-month stint.
Doctrine does it again
After going 909 days and 32 starts between his third and fourth Hong Kong victories, Righteous Doctrine made it two wins on the trot in the Class Four Middle Handicap (1,800m) on the all-weather track at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Sent off a $5.20 chance under jockey Silvestre de Sousa, who was returning from suspension, Righteous Doctrine travelled near the back of the field.
The seven-year-old then wound up nicely in the home straight and mowed down his rivals late on a day when a host of all-weather winners came from off the pace.
The win was De Sousa’s 18th of a season that has already featured three careless riding bans, with the Brazilian sitting third in the premiership and preparing to compete in the IJC.
Chang moved to four winners for the term and importantly for the veteran trainer, it was a fourth victory in Class Four as he looks to avoid a third strike and the potential end of his career.
Chang needs 16 winners to hit the Jockey Club’s trainers’ benchmark, but rules stipulate only two of those can be in Class Five.
Moreira back in action
Joao Moreira is one step closer to riding at Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong International Races after making his comeback from a hip injury in Brazil over the weekend.
Moreira had not ridden since the Happy Valley meeting on September 21 before stepping out at Cidade Jardim racecourse in Sao Paulo on Saturday, where he had six rides.
It was not a winning return for the Magic Man, with the 39-year-old having to settle for four seconds, but he had another 10 chances to taste success at Curitiba overnight.
Moreira will arrive in Hong Kong on Tuesday and must pass a fitness test early on Wednesday to take his Group One rides aboard Japanese raiders Glory Vase, Lei Papale and Resistencia on the weekend.
Meanwhile, Karis Teetan has been given the all-clear to return to the saddle at Happy Valley on Wednesday night after being sidelined since September 18 because of a thyroid condition.
After getting the all-clear from the Jockey Club’s chief medical officer over the weekend, Teetan will take a handful of rides on the IJC undercard before turning his attention to international day.
Teetan has secured the mounts aboard Group One winner Panfield in the Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) and Savvy Nine in the Hong Kong Cup (2,000m).
Sha Tin car park opens
The Jockey Club unveiled its new Sha Tin car park on Sunday, with members getting their first taste of the “pleasantly seamless arrival experience” the new facility offers.
The new car park, which boasts 496 parking spaces, is expected to improve traffic flow and is connected to the members’ enclosure by an expansive footbridge.
“Customer-centricity is a key principle governing our planning and operation. We place high importance on meeting the aspiration of our customers,” said Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.
“The car park will increase the covered car park spaces in Sha Tin racecourse by around 40 per cent [and] is a latest example of our commitment and effort to meeting the expectations of our owners and members.”