Jockey Grant van Niekerk sacked in Hong Kong, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Jockey Grant van Niekerk sacked in Hong Kong

In a surprise move, The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has sacked jockey Grant van Niekerk.

Its licensing committee on Monday withdrew the South African jockey's riding licence with immediate effect.

"This decision was as a result of a conduct-related matter which does not pertain to any race riding or other racing integrity-related matter," said the HKJC.

As a result of the decision, the stewards have approved substitutions on van Niekerk's six rides at Happy Valley tonight.

A South China Morning Post report said van Niekerk was understood to have been involved in a domestic dispute and did not respond to a request for comment on Monday night.

HKJC officials told the newspaper that police were not involved in the matter and that van Niekerk has remained in Hong Kong for the time being.

"There has never been any police involvement in anything that has led the club to make the decision to withdraw the licence," said HKJC executive director of racing Andrew Harding.

Niekerk, 28, was down to ride in a barrier trial at Sha Tin last Friday morning, but did not show up. He was replaced by Alex Lai at the last minute, prompting trainer Ricky Yiu to address the issue with the stewards.

Van Niekerk had enjoyed a terrific season. Fifth on the jockeys' premiership table, he notched 37 wins and 84 placings from 350 rides for just over HK$56 million ($10.3 million) in prize money for the horses' connections.

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 a Western Cape champion apprentice jockey in 2010/11 and became a full-fledged jockey in February 2012. He has ridden more than 700 winners, including 10 in Group 1.