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South African rider Grant van Niekerk sacked by the Jockey Club

The 28-year-old has been removed from his rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night

Grant van Niekerk has been sacked by the Hong Kong Jockey Club with immediate effect. The South African rider, who was fifth in the jockeys’ championship, was “delicensed” by the licensing committee on Monday as a result of a “conduct-related matter which does not pertain to any race riding or integrity-related matter”. Van Niekerk had been enjoying a terrific season, with 37 wins and 84 placings from 350 rides for just over HK$56 million in prize money after collecting 31 victories in his maiden Hong Kong campaign in 2018-19. His dismissal comes at a time when the Hong Kong riding ranks are already wafer thin and getting in new jockeys is difficult given the quarantine restrictions in place across the world to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Van Niekerk was booked for six rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, but all of them now have replacements. Meanwhile, the Jockey Club has also announced that apprentice Jerry Chau Chun-lok will join the ranks as soon as he finishes his mandatory period of self isolation after returning to Hong Kong from Australia in the coming days. Chau replaces Gary Lo King-yeung, who was also dismissed by the Jockey Club less than a fortnight ago due to “a pending employment-related matter”. Lo had not yet competed in a Hong Kong race. More to come …

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