Stewards call Rawiller, Avdulla and Bowman in for a chat
The return of Alizee in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday held a lot of attention and the mare showed she'll be a force to reckon with, in anything the daughter of Sepoy contests during spring.
Hugh Bowman was very kind to the two-time Group 1 winner but he, along with fellow big names in the Sydney jockeys' room, was questioned by stewards over tactics after the heavily-backed Prime Candidate strode to victory in the Cabra Bowls Benchmark 78 Handicap.
The Bjorn Baker-trained Prime Candidate was backed from $8.50 into a starting price of $5 and scored a three-quarter length victory over the late-closing Dawn Dawn.
While Prime Candidate impressed and was relatively untroubled in scoring, the biggest story out of the race was after the event, when stewards separately questioned three beaten riders - Nash Rawiller, Brenton Avdulla and Bowman.
Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel told Avdulla, the rider of Oxford Tycoon, "there were a few horses out of position in that race" during questioning.
The Racing NSW stewards pre-race speedmap had Prime Candidate in front with Black Magnum (Rawiller) to the leader's outside with Oxford Tycoon racing in a three-wide position outside the speed while Deity (Bowman) was back towards the tail of the field.
Once the barriers opened, Deity was the quickest to begin and Bowman allowed the Godolphin mare to stride to take up the running with Prime Candidate settling outside the lead. Black Magnum was in the group behind the leaders, posted three wide, while Avdulla went back on Oxford Tycoon which was slow to begin.
The torrid wide run (in windy conditions) took its toll on Black Magnum, who eased down late, finishing a clear 11 lengths from the winner and five panels adrift from ninth placed Deity.
Martin and Webb handed disqualifications
On Friday, Racing NSW stewards conducted a hearing of charges issued against trainer Tim Martin and stablehand Mr Justin Webb under AR229(1)(a) of engaging in an improper action.
Martin pleaded guilty to a charge of engaging in an improper action under AR229(1)(a) in respect to the purchase of a 2015 High Chaparral x Eileen filly in January 2017, in that he failed to pay all funds to New Zealand Bloodstock that he had received from the purchasers for a 55 per cent share of the filly.
Stewards determined that the appropriate starting point was a disqualification of nine months, but, after taking into account Martin's guilty plea and mitigating factors, the penalty was reduced to six months to commence immediately and to expire on February 9, 2020.
Tim Martin, who prepared now champion sire Exceed And Excel, has lodged an appeal and continues to train on a stay of proceedings.
Justin Webb did not attend the hearing and the charge was determined in his absence.
Webb was found guilty and he was handed a nine months disqualification (to commence immediately) and expire on May 9, 2020.
Purton and Moreira ready for Hong Kong season opener
The new Hong Kong racing season is only three weeks away and the expat Aussies plying their craft in the wagering behemoth are reigning champion jockey Zac Purton, Chad Schofield, Blake Shinn and Regan Bayliss.
Purton's clash with three-time HK champion Joao Moreira will again engage punters. It was Purton who ended Douglas Whyte's 13-season dominance with his first Hong Kong jockeys' championship in 2013/14 (112 wins).
In the training ranks, former champion jockey Whyte kickstarts his training career with a 26-strong team, with four-time winner California Fortune (formerly with Tony Cruz) the best performed.
While Cruz steps up, the upcoming season looks set to be the last for John Moore. The Hong Kong Jockey Club have confirmed they will adhere to their hard-and-fast retirement rule - even if he was to snatch the trainers' championship at the eleventh hour.
While Moore - who believes he is as sharp as ever - is keen to train on past 70, speculation has also been rife his red-hot form could earn him a stay of execution.
Moore was granted a special extension at the usual retirement age of 65 four years ago but Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding said there was a hard cap at 70.
"The licensing committee makes all of the decisions on the licensing of trainers. They have made a general rule that trainers are to retire at 65," Harding said.
"By special approval, they have allowed some trainers in specially defined circumstances to go beyond 65 but with a limit of 70."
Moore currently has his hands on the two hottest horses in Hong Kong in Beauty Generation and Aethero.
The 69-year-old Australian also has his eye on bettering Silent Witness' mark of 17 consecutive victories with his champion miler Beauty Generation who has already racked up nine wins on the trot.
Zahra, Ho and Kawada take top honours at Ascot
Vincent Ho marked his first day in the saddle at one of the world's most famous racecourses with a win as his Rest of the World team captured the Shergar Cup at Ascot on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Hong Kong star went close in the Shergar Cup Challenge (2300m) when the front-running Genetics was caught in the final strides by fellow Rest of the World rider Aussie Mark Zahra aboard Indianapolis.
However, Ho went one better in the following Shergar Cup Mile (1600m) when Power of Darkness, trained by Derby-winning handler Marcus Tregoning, came home powerfully from well off the pace to score with authority.
Ho was thrilled to join Zahra and Japanese rider Yuga Kawada as part of the winning team. The trio accrued 86 points, with Team Europe and The Girls joint second with 63 points, and Great Britain/Ireland fourth of four with 28 points.
"This has been a great experience and I have to thank the Hong Kong Jockey Club and everyone at Ascot for giving me this opportunity," the former Hong Kong champion apprentice said.
"The Shergar Cup makes headlines all around the world and I would have to say this goes down as one of the most enjoyable days of my career so far."
WA mares ready for Everest assault
Outstanding WA mares Arcadia Queen and Enticing Star joined Chris Waller's stable last month and both are headed towards the $14 million Everest at Randwick on October 19.
While nominated to run in barrier trials at Randwick on Monday the duo have been scratched from heats one and two (over 1000m) of 17 scheduled on a busy morning.
The pair are expected to go the Everest with two trials and one race start for Waller.
Arcadia Queen runs in the Everest in the slot held by The Star while Enticing Star will take Waller's slot.
Another Everest aspirant, Classique Legend, will also miss Monday's trials with a minor nasal discharge while three-time Group 1 winner Sunlight is scheduled to contest the same trial over 900m (heat three) as she also begins her Everest preparation. Regular jockey Luke Currie heads to Sydney to navigate.
Other high profile spring feature contenders slated to trial include Happy Clapper, Surround Stakes winner Nakeeta Jane, Matthew Smith's Grey Lion and Group 1 JJ Atkins winner Prince Fawaz.