Every jockey and trainer’s worst nightmare came true for Dennis Yip and Felix Coetzee in Hong Kong Nov. 15, when a horse weighed in light following the fourth race and had to be disqualified.
Village Kid, well backed at $81 (for $10), rallied home late to gain third placing behind Mega Bullet in the Panasonic Workio Handicap, but when Coetzee went to weigh in after the event, he and his saddle were 1.1 pounds lighter than they should have been.
Under the rules of racing, stipendiary stewards have no option but to disqualify any such horse. With Village Kid having been disqualified, fourth placed Win More (ridden by Jacky Tong) was promoted to third placing.
Stewards reconvened their inquiry into the reason for Coetzee weighing in light after the final event.
Coetzee told them the gear he weighed out with was exactly the same as the set he returned with after the race, and chief steward Jamie Stier said there was no evidence to dispute that claim.
Coetzee said that he had gone to the bathroom and changed his riding breeches after weighing out, but claimed this was something he had done on many previous occasions without ever falling foul of the rules.
While stewards commended Coetzee for the forthright nature of his evidence, they still charged him under rule 113 for failing to weigh in at his allotted weight of 126 pounds.
The champion South African jockey was found guilty of the charge and suspended for five meetings, to take effect after the Nov. 23 Hong Kong International Cup and Mile Trials (both HK-I).
Coetzee will be eligible to resume at Happy Valley on the night of the International Jockeys’ Championship, Dec. 11.
The last horse to be disqualified under similar circumstances was 14 years ago. Australian rider Damien Oliver weighed in light after winning on the Neville Begg-trained Diamond Coast in 1994. According to local historians, Oliver was neither suspended nor fined, but Diamond Coast was disqualified as the winner of the race.