The Stewards today concluded their inquiry into W M Lai’s riding of WINNING CONTROLLER in the Collection Handicap which was run at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 17 March 2019. The inquiry was resumed on Wednesday, 27 March 2019 at which time Jockey Lai was charged with having breached Hong Kong Rule of Racing 99 (2). After issuing the charge against Jockey Lai, the Stewards acceded to an application submitted by him that the inquiry be adjourned to allow him the opportunity to consider the evidence prior to entering a plea to the charge.
Jockey Lai today pleaded not guilty to the charge issued against him. After hearing further evidence from Jockey Lai at today’s hearing, the Stewards decided, after considering all the evidence, that the charge issued against him on 27 March 2019 for breaching Hong Kong Rule of Racing 99 (2) was sustained and accordingly he was found guilty.
In finding Jockey Lai guilty of the charge, the Stewards took into consideration the following:
- Jockey Lai gave evidence that the instructions provided to him by Mr C H Yip, the trainer of WINNING CONTROLLER, as to how that horse should be ridden in this race were that “If there aren’t any leaders, go forward but if there is someone who is leading the race, put him in 2nd or 3rd”.
- Mr Yip confirmed that his instructions to Jockey Lai on how WINNING CONTROLLER should be ridden in this race included “You can try to jump, let the horse roll and don’t ask him too much. If you can be in front, in front, if you can’t, 2nd or 3rd … But if somebody goes fast, you can be 2nd or 3rd”.
- COOLCELEB, ridden by Jockey R Bayliss and which was racing over 1600 Metres for the first time in this race and was wearing blinkers for the first time assumed the lead in the early stages of the race.
- At the 1100 Metres WINNING CONTROLLER had established the position outside COOLCELEB and about half a length behind that horse.
- The sectional time of the race from the start to the 1200 Metres (400 Metres) was 24.88 which is largely consistent with the Class 4 standard for that section (24.55) and which is consistent with the relevant sectional times that WINNING CONTROLLER had previously run over the course and distance (24.82 [8 July 2018], 24.89 [16 June 2018], 24.66 [3 June 2018] and 24.78 [1 January 2018]).
- After the 950 Metres WINNING CONTROLLER was unnecessarily allowed to improve from its established position to be racing almost on terms with COOLCELEB.
- WINNING CONTROLLER’s sectional time between the 1200 Metres and the 800 Metres (400 Metres) was 22.79. This represents the fastest sectional time that WINNING CONTROLLER had run between the 1200 Metres and the 800 Metres in any of its previous 4 races over the course and distance (22.96, 23.94, 23.45 and 23.50).
- This sectional time was 0.51 second faster than the Class 4 standard for that section of the race over the course and distance (23.30). This equates to this section of the race being run at least 3 lengths faster than standard.
- The first 800 Metres of the race (1600 Metres to 800 Metres) was run in 47.67 seconds, the fastest first 800 Metres that WINNING CONTROLLER had previously run over the course and distance (47.78, 48.83, 48.11 and 48.28).
- WINNING CONTROLLER continued to race on terms with or in advance of COOLCELEB after the 800 Metres when the pace of the race between the 1200 Metres and the 800 Metres had already been run at a fast tempo.
- WINNING CONTROLLER’s sectional time between the 800 Metres and the 400 Metres was 23.06. This is the fastest 800 Metres to 400 Metres sectional that WINNING CONTROLLER had run over the course and distance (23.58, 23.23, 24.02 and 24.52).
- This section of the race was run 1.04 seconds faster than the Class 4 standard over the course and distance (24.10). 1.04 seconds equates to that section of the race being run at least 6 lengths faster than standard.
- The 1200 Metres to the 400 Metres sectional (800 Metres) was run in 45.85 seconds, 1.55 seconds faster than the Class 4 standard for that section of the race over the course and distance (47.40). 1.55 seconds equates to, at least, 9 lengths. Therefore, the section of the race between the 1200 Metres and the 400 Metres was run at least 9 lengths faster than standard for Class 4 races conducted over the course and distance.
- After the race Jockey Lai informed Mr Yip that the pace of the race was “very slow”.
- Jockey Lai informed the Stewards at the inquiry that he felt the pace of the race was “normal”.
- The pace of the race between the 1200 Metres and the 400 Metres was 1.55 seconds, or at least 9 lengths, faster than standard and as such was extremely fast.
- Jockey Lai is a very experienced jockey having ridden in more than 7,500 races in Hong Kong.
- WINNING CONTROLLER ran the last 400 Metres of the race in 24.67, the slowest final sectional that the horse had run over the course and distance up until that time (22.99, 23.12, 23.81 and 24.09).
- WINNING CONTROLLER ran its last 400 Metres of the race (24.67), 1.32 seconds slower than the Class 4 standard for that section of the race over the course and distance (23.35). This equates to its final 400 Metres of the race being run at least 7 lengths slower than standard after running the first 1200 Metres of the race 1.22 seconds faster than standard.
- WINNING CONTROLLER, which finished in 3rd placing, finished the race half a length behind DASHING DART, the second placegetter.
In the circumstances, the Stewards considered the appropriate penalty was for Jockey Lai’s licence to ride in races to be suspended for a period to incorporate 10 Hong Kong racemeetings.
The Stewards then considered evidence provided by Jockey Lai as to the reasons for him having voluntarily elected not to ride both in races or track work since being charged on 27 March 2019. During that period, Jockey Lai’s capacity to earn from race riding had been significantly impacted.
The Stewards informed Jockey Lai that they were mindful of the period of time which had elapsed between the issuance of the charge on 27 March 2019 and today’s hearing, circumstances which were out of his control.
Having regard to all these matters, the Stewards considered it was appropriate for the commencement date of the aforementioned period of suspension from riding in races to be backdated to commence on Sunday, 31 March 2019 (the racemeeting following which Jockey Lai was charged) and to expire on Thursday, 2 May 2019 on which day he may resume riding. During this period, 10 racemeetings will have been conducted in Hong Kong.
Mr Yip was advised that his evidence would be noted.