MUNCE SCAM CHARGE A FARCE:FAMILY
By ADRIAN MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org
CHRIS MUNCE may be facing the darkest time of his career as he languishes in a Hong Kong prison, but here on the Northern Rivers there are people who believe in him.
Lismore Turf Club secretary Michael Timbrell said even though Munce had been sentenced to 30 months' jail, there was every reason he could return as one of Australia's premier jockeys.
"No, I don't think it's over," Timbrell replied when asked if the Casino-born jockey's career was finished.
"Chris doesn't have a problem with weight because he's quite small, and he's got enough natural ability to come straight out and ride winners."
Timbrell said while Munce's ability was unquestioned, the 'tips-for-bets' saga could harm any attempts he made to reenter the industry.
"Only time will tell whether this has ruined his reputation," he said.
"But it will come down to whether he has the will to re- turn to the racing industry.
"He will probably feel harshly done by and might be sick of the industry ? only time will tell."
Munce was convicted by a Hong Kong court of conspiring to trade tips in return for bets.
As yet there has been no word whether he will appeal the decision.
Racing NSW chief executive Peter Vlandys said yesterday Munce's licence had been suspended until a review into the Hong Kong verdict was completed.
Ballina Jockey Club secretary-manager Stephen Taylor said while Munce's talent was undoubted, it could be difficult to recover from such an incident.
"With a criminal history it can be difficult for people to get a (jockey's) licence," he said. "He came to Ballina a couple of years ago and meeting him was a real honour."