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Irish jockey Neil Callan fighting for his Hong Kong career

Irish rider Neil Callan is fighting for his Hong Kong career after being called to front the Jockey Club’s licensing committee over his conduct during a stewards’ inquiry last month.

The incident occurred at Happy Valley during the meeting on February 3 when the 42-year-old was suspended for three meetings and fined HK$20,000 after being found guilty of careless riding in the fifth race aboard Chater Pins.

Callan made it very clear it was a decision he did not agree with, witnesses have confirmed.

He must now front the licensing committee in relation to Hong Kong Jockey Club rule 14(2) which states: “a licence may be withdrawn or suspended by the stewards of the Jockey Club if they shall determine that the licence holder’s conduct, whether or not the conduct associated with racing, renders him unsuitable to continue to hold the licence issued to him”.

It is effectively a show cause hearing, which means Callan must now appeal to the committee to keep his licence for the remainder of the season. The date of the hearing is yet to be determined.

The move comes less than six weeks after the licensing committee extended Callan’s licence, which was originally set to expire on February 15, until the end of the term.

The last jockey to front the licensing committee under this rule was Howard Cheng Yue-tin in 2017, who had his licence withdrawn immediately after a host of disciplinary issues.

Trainers who fail to meet the Jockey Club’s minimum performance requirements for a third time are required to front “show cause hearings” with Almond Lee, Derek Cruz, Sean Woods and Andreas Schutz all losing their appeals in recent years.

Callan, who finishes his suspension after Wednesday night’s card at the city track, first came to Hong Kong for a short-term stint in 2010-11 before becoming a full-time rider from the 2014-15 season. He has 271 wins to his credit, including 16 this campaign.

The “Iron Man” is best known for his association with Tony Cruz’s superstar Blazing Speed, who won the Group One QE II Cup in 2015 along with two Group One Champions & Chater Cups.

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