Hong Kong's leading trainer John Moore has admitted that he is looking at "alternatives" to replace champion jockey Darren Beadman as his retained stable rider next season.
Beadman has not ridden since he suffered injuries a barrier trial fall at Sha Tin on February 17.
The 46-year-old has since been fighting a battle to recover from head trauma that has affected his balance, speech and brain functions.
Darren Beadman, picture Sportpix.com.au
Beadman returned to Hong Kong this weekend after spending several weeks at his Sydney home. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI scan at the end of June but has admitted a return to the saddle is "not looking good".
"It's really happening very slowly. My balance is no better and I'm having a problem with multi-tasking," Beadman told the South China Morning Post.
"I'm fine doing one thing at a time but if I'm trying to do more, or if I get distracted, it's like my brain loses its way.
"Not riding again isn't the end of the world but it isn't looking good. My neurosurgeon says another head injury and I would be in strife."
The Hong Kong Jockey Club issued licences for the 2012/13 season last week. Moore was approved to retain a stable jockey but Beadman, his retained rider for the last five seasons, was not named on the jockey list.
Moore said he will keep the position open for Beadman as long as possible.
"Darren has been offered the job again next season but it is in the back of my mind that I have to be considering other options, given that Darren's rate of recovery from his injuries is so slow," Moore said.
Moore has refused to elaborate on a possible replacement for Beadman but Hong Kong observers believe he will offer the position to young New Zealand star James McDonald if he has to employ a new stable jockey.
McDonald has ridden successfully for Moore in recent months. They combined to win the G1 Champions Mile at Sha Tin with Xtension and McDonald also rode for the stable in the Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji last month, finishing second on Zaidan.
The Kiwi will return to Hong Kong later this month for the final five meetings of the season which ends on July 15.