Munce and Hutchinson back in winners' circle
It was a long way from the glory days but the victories were just as sweet for comeback jockeys Chris Munce and Peter Hutchinson.
Munce claimed a double at Sunday’s Hawkesbury meeting north west of Sydney on his third day back at the races after serving 20 months in jail for his part in a tips for bets scandal in Hong Kong.
Hutchinson retired in July 2002 from a career plagued by injury but cemented his return at Victoria’s Ballarat course at his third race ride.
Munce was controversially relicensed by Racing NSW sparking a row with Hong Kong racing authorities who deemed he should be out until September next year.
He rode at Randwick on Friday and Rosehill the following day with his best result a second placing.
The winner of two Golden Slippers and a Melbourne Cup, Munce steered the Mitchell Hudson-trained Swiftus to a comprehensive 2-1/4 length win in a 1000 metre maiden at Hawkesbury.
He backed up two races later to win a 1600m maiden on War Council who is trained by Hudson’s Warwick Farm neighbour Steve Englebrecht.
Hutchinson, whose career highlight was his 1993 Caulfield Cup win on Fraar, steered the Robert Smerdon-trained Carrapateena to a half length win in a 1200m maiden at Ballarat.
"This is like winning a Melbourne Cup," Hutchinson said.
"I was confident from the moment we jumped and it’s good to be back."
Hutchinson has been riding work for Smerdon since February this year but his comeback was delayed when he injured a thumb.
The decision by Racing NSW to give Munce a licence has caused a rift between the administrative body and Hong Kong racing authorities which banned him until September next year.
Racing NSW deemed Munce had served the penalty for 35 breaches of the racing rules and refused to reciprocate a 30-month ban on a 36th charge after taking legal advice.
That ban was tied to a breach under the criminal code of the Hong Kong SAR and Munce would not have been convicted had it taken place in Australia.
By Caryl Williamson