The Stewards today interviewed licensed trainer Dennis C H Yip regarding a matter referred to them in respect of a social gathering at a public restaurant on 14 February 2022 at which he attended and which was contrary to the Rules and protocols imposed by the Club upon licensed persons in order to protect the racing bubble and enable racing to continue. Mr Yip participated in the inquiry via Zoom.
Mr Yip pleaded guilty to a breach of Rule 155(3) in that as a Trainer licensed by The Hong Kong Jockey Club for the current 2021/2022 racing season he did act in a manner prejudicial to the proper conduct of horse racing under the control and direction of the Club.
The charge was particularized as follows:-
1. In email correspondence dated 24 March 2021 he was notified of, amongst other matters, the restrictions placed upon all Trainers and Assistant Trainers in respect of social interaction and attending public restaurants when Club-mandated Covid-protocols reached certain levels.
2. In email correspondence dated 5 January 2022 he was notified of protocols which placed restrictions upon all Trainers and Assistant Trainers in respect of social interaction and attending public restaurants.
3. In email correspondence dated 28 January 2022 all Trainers, Assistant Trainers and Jockeys were specifically notified to avoid social gatherings with non-permanent households during the upcoming period.
4. During the Happy Valley race meeting conducted on Wednesday, 9 February 2022 he was personally directed by a Stipendiary Steward not to meet with other than approved people or to attend certain areas and was informed of the severe penalties which may result from these requirements not being complied with.
5. On Monday, 14 February 2022 all Trainers and Assistant Trainers were sent an email via their respective Stable Email Account notifying that cross-household gathering should be suspended.
6. On the afternoon of Monday, 14 February 2022 he did meet a person who was not a member of his household at a public restaurant and during that time socialized with that person without masks being worn.
7. By meeting with that person on 14 February 2022 he did contravene the restrictions placed upon him and made known to him in earlier emails in respect of social interaction and attending public restaurants.
8. On or about Friday, 18 February 2022 he did complete a document in which he acknowledged that he understood the Club-imposed restrictions and protocols placed upon him.
9. After being notified that cross-household gathering should be suspended and acknowledging that he understood the Club-imposed restrictions and protocols placed upon him, he did negligently fail to report to Club Management that he had met with a person at a public restaurant on 14 February 2022 in contravention of the protocols.
10. By contravening the Club-mandated Covid-protocols by meeting with the person on 14 February 2022, and by negligently failing to report to Club Management that he had met with that person at a public restaurant, 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.
After considering all the relevant matters associated with 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 $600,000 was the appropriate penalty.
It should be noted that Rule 23(1) provides that the maximum monetary penalty able to be imposed by the Stewards is $600,000.
Mr Yip was advised of his right of appeal against this decision. He was also advised, notwithstanding his right of appeal, that the Licensing Committee would be notified of the circumstances of this case and the penalty issued by the Stewards.