Tension between Hong Kong and Australia over Munce
Horse racing authorities all over the world usually work together as a united international authority to build healthy relationships with each other and to provide the public with the security of a unified industry. Co-operation between the various racing jurisdictions is vital for the horse racing industry, as it assists jockeys and trainers to get licenses to race in other countries, and most countries are signatories to Article 10 of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities that upholds an agreed upon set of rules and regulations in regard to wagering, breeding and racing. A small loophole in the signing of this agreement has caused tension that could have an international impact on the industry.
Jockey Christopher Munce was found guilty in a Tips-For-Bets scandal that broke in Hong Kong last year. Munce admitted his guilt and role in the shocking breach of Hong Kong Jockey Club rules to which he agreed to comply with by receiving his license to race in Hong Kong. The thirty-six counts of wrong doing saw Munce serve a twenty month jail sentence that was served in Hong Kong and in Australia. Over and above serving time for perpetrating a criminal offence under Hong Kong law, the Hong Kong Jockey Club ruled on a thirty month ban for Christopher Munce for violating the rules and regulations of the racing authority.
But the New South Wales Australia racing authorities have chosen to ignore the ban imposed on Munce by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and has allowed him to partake in trial races since his release from prison in October and he is believed to return to full active racing by next week. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who is the chairman for the Asian Racing Federation as well as chief executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, has expressed his anger at the decision made by the New South Wales racing authorities, saying that the blatant disrespect towards the ban will most definitely place a great strain on the relationship between Hong Kong and Australia. The authorities of New South Wales countered that even though the Australian Racing Board is a signatory of Act 10, the New South Wales Australia racing authorities aren’t, even though they fall under the Australian Racing Board. This point has brought about major conflict.
Many fear that the decision to go against the ban will affect Australian jockeys and trainers in Hong Kong negatively and that the tension that now exists between the Hong Kong racing authorities and Australia might create problems down the line. Act 10 was signed between racing authorities to create harmony in the international horse racing industry and to upkeep the integrity of the sport, which now seems to hang in the balance.