HKJC stipes resist throwing book at trainer for throwing book at trainer
Michael Chang’s playful toss of his racebook at rival trainer Caspar Fownes has earned a warning from stewards and the publishing of one of the more absurd press releases in Hong Kong Jockey Club history.
Let’s start by saying that the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s stipendiary stewards have some of the highest pressure jobs in world racing.
Making sure the multi-billion dollar sport runs safely, fairly and that its perception among fans is paramount. Sometimes the matters they deal with are menial – starters and scratchings – and sometimes it is about the high stakes nature of declaring no-races or deliberating over contentious running and handling cases. Then, there are matters that are just plain absurd and perhaps – in hindsight – better left handled by a quiet word to the side.
After Caspar Fownes-trained Kahalo Angel won the Class 5 opener at Sha Tin last Sunday, trainer of runner-up Joyful Prosperity Michael Chang threw his racebook into the back of Fownes.
Fownes was fortunately uninjured by the ‘overhand racebook fastball’ to the back by Chang but stewards still called the trainers in for a grilling, after which intense questioning by new chief steward Marc Van Gestel revealed that it was all in good fun.
A delightfully earnest Jockey Club public release stated in dot point form that “the interviews established that”:
- Mr Fownes and Mr Chang are good friends.
- The incident was considered by both trainers to be light-hearted banter.
- Mr Fownes took no offense or exception to the incident.
All important takeaways for sure. Stewards did issue a public warning to Chang that “he should conduct himself in a professional manner at all times to avoid incidents such as this being misrepresented in the public domain and therefore potentially impacting upon the good public image and reputation of racing.”