Chris Munce - family and career his top priorities
Hong Kong racing authorities will conduct an inquiry into the Chris Munce money-for-tips scandal on Monday, with the jockey to give evidence via a video link from the offices of Racing NSW.
Munce, who was released from Sydney’s Silverwater Prison yesterday, didn’t expect to be forced to leave Australia to appear at the inquiry.
"Having been separated from my wife and children for almost two years I don’t think anyone would expect me to jump on a plane and turn around and go there after just getting home," Munce said.
The 1998 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey was jailed in Hong Kong in March last year after being found guilty of taking money for tips on horses he was riding.
He was arrested by Hong Kong anti-corruption officials in July 2006 with $HK250,000 (about $A40,000) in his jeans pocket along with a piece of paper with notations allegedly relating to bets on races in which he had tipped.
Munce was transferred to Silverwater in September 2007 under an agreement brokered by Australian government officials.
A fit and healthy Munce read from a prepared statement at a press conference today at Randwick Racecourse, the scene of some of his greatest triumphs.
"My main focus now is twofold," Munce said.
"Firstly to spend time with my wife and children and secondly to resume my career as a leading jockey.
"My wife Cathy has been a tower of strength not just for me but for our three children.
"She is certainly a remarkable woman and has been my inspiration throughout.
"My children have remained focused and have dealt with this period really well and a man could not be prouder of his children than I am here today."
Support from his major backers including leading trainer Gai Waterhouse has never wavered and she is among those keen to see him back riding again.
Among his wins for Waterhouse were the Group One Salinger Stakes on Dance Hero and the Group One Mackinnon Stakes on Desert War in November 2006 while Munce was on bail pending his trial.
Munce, 39, said he used his time in prison constructively.
"I’ve tried to look after myself the best I could and my weight has not varied a great deal because of daily training and exercise," Munce said.
"I took the time to complete some study and was able to complete a certificate in business management."
The hoop is confident of making a successful return to racing.
"There will be challenges but I am certain that after what I’ve had to endure over the last 20 months that I am mentally and physically prepared to take on anything," Munce said.
In Australia, Munce’s offences would have been dealt with by racing authorities not the judicial system.
By Russell Jackson