by Murray Bell
Thirteen years of excellence from Australia’s champion jockey Darren Beadman has convinced the Hong Kong Jockey Club to set aside a long-accepted principle and allow him back into Asia’s World City as the retained jockey for top trainer John Moore.
The Jockey Club licensing committee Sept. 19 ratified an application from Moore for Beadman, 41, to become stable jockey, starting with the National Day meet that begins Oct. 1 and ends Dec. 15.
The licensing of Beadman sets aside the unwritten rule that anyone found guilty of malpractice in Hong Kong would never be allowed back, but Beadman’s extraordinary record since his comeback in Sydney in 1994 has won him an unprecedented second chance.
Beadman was disqualified for nine months for not allowing Better Choice, trained by Geoff Lane, to run on its merits in November 1993. He left Hong Kong in disgrace the following week and did his time on the sidelines before returning to become not only the number one rider in his homeland but a respected racing ambassador.
“Hong Kong is the one blemish on my (record), and ever since I returned to race-riding in 1994, I’ve set myself the task of showing horse racing in a positive light through everything I do,” Beadman said. “I guess, with the appropriate modesty, that I’ve done just about everything I can do in Australia. So the chance to return to Hong Kong and do well, to justify the faith people have showed in me and to prove the sort of person I truly am, that is now very important to me and that’s what I will do.
“We’ve been hoping this would happen, and have been waiting nervously for the phone call. Now that it’s actually confirmed, the whole family is very excited. I can’t wait to get there.”
Beadman has reached a staggering level of success in recent years. He has added seven Sydney jockeys’ championships to his three apprentice titles, and broke the Sydney record for winners in a season for the first time in 1994-95, riding 128 winners to claim a 55-year-old record held by the late Billy Cook.
Larry Cassidy subsequently beat that record, but Beadman claimed it back, riding 141 winners in 2002-03. He has reset his own benchmark three more times, with the bar now raised to 164 winners at the end of last season (July 31).
Moore, whose father, George, is the jockey to whom Beadman is most often compared in Australian racing history, expressed his satisfaction with the licensing decision.
“I’m delighted to have him on board,” Moore said. “I’m sure a jockey of his caliber will be a big asset to Hong Kong racing and it will be very good for business as well. As soon as the commingling of pools happens in Australia, you can bet those thousands of Beadman fans Down Under will want to bet on their idol, and Hong Kong racing will get the benefit of that.”
Beadman, who since his departure has ridden in Hong Kong on seven occasions (for six winners), said he has continued to be a keen follower of Hong Kong racing.