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Is there anything they haven’t thought of in Hong Kong racing’s brave new world?

Trainer Caspar Fownes describes the new Conghua centre as “an exceptional state-of-the-art training center, with access to various useful facilities that we don’t ordinarily have access to in Hong Kong.” Hong Kong Jockey Club photo

The spectacular new Conghua Training Centre of the Hong Kong Jockey Club is set to open in mainland China in August. And it appears to be a gamechanger, raising the jurisdiction even higher in the world of motorsport. Kristen Manning provides coverage.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has wanted to grow for two decades. It had the financial resources, the motivation of a thriving local racing sector, and the backing of everyone involved. It lacked only one thing: space.

Finding a suitable spot for a racetrack was not an issue when the Club was founded in November 1844 by a group of ardent racing fans, and Happy Valley was created a year later on what used to be swampland, with the inaugural meeting taking place in 1846.

Sha Tin was founded on reclaimed land in 1978, and racing in Hong Kong has never looked back. It is presently the site of the Longines Hong Kong International Race Day, which attracts racegoers from all over the world each December. Sunline , Falvelon , Monopolize , Opening Catalan , Our Grey Enemy , Kessem and Conti, Romanee proving to be excellent ambassadors for Australasia

Although numerous of the big day’s biggest stars have held (AUS) and (NZ) suffixes, the competition has been tougher in recent years, with Australian and New Zealand runners finding it harder to get into the winner’s circle. Witness in Silence , The Holy Kingdom , King Prawn Fairy and Rain’s Vengeance .

Initial aim realised

Locally trained horses dominated December 2017, but the International Sprint winner stood out. Mr. Magnificent , a son of Exceeding And Exceeding , who was born and raised in Australia, Generation of Beauty In the International Mile, he showed to be too strong for his opponents. The son of a New Zealander The Way To Rock in Australia as a racer Montaigne , with a win at Randwick and a second-place finish behind Tarzino Rosehill Guineas, Grade 1

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges of the Hong Kong Jockey Club is exceedingly proud of the day’s success, especially because it achieved its original goal of improving the general quality of Hong Kong racing and horses.

The first Hong Kong-trained horse was born in 1998. Cruyff, Johan , made it into the international rankings (now the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings), up from eight in 2008 to twenty-one in 2013, and twenty-six in 2016. According to the Longines/IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) estimates, Hong Kong is home to 8% of the world’s top-rated horses, and all 11 of Sha Tin’s major races are among the world’s top 100 G1 races.

However, there are still restrictions, with each of the 22 Hong Kong trainers allowed a maximum of 60 horses and the present equine population capped at 1,230. Although the racing is competitive and entertaining, there is a long waiting list of owners who must wait four years for a permit, and the Club is eager to increase the number of owners.

Alluring possibility

It has been wondering how for two decades. “For years, we attempted to find land, but it was impossible,” Engelbrecht-Bresges recalled. Then came the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, two years after the horses competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics were housed at Sha Tin.

As a result, an intriguing prospect arose. In China, there is lots of room.

As a result, a deal was struck to buy and develop “a big piece of land” at Conghua, 139 kilometers north of Hong Kong.

Conghua, known for its hot springs, is already a famous tourist destination for locals, and its mayor has been receptive, recognizing that the presence of the Hong Kong Jockey Club can only raise awareness.

The development of the Conghua Training Centre, according to Engelbrecht-Bresges, has been “perhaps the most rigorous and substantial undertaking the Club has ever undertaken.”

“From developing the first equine disease-free zone in China… to overcoming many hurdles,” he stated. gaining special approval for cross-border transportation of horses, allowing our physicians to practice in China, allowing feed and medication importation, and establishing the first comprehensive equine clinic on the mainland.”

The Club worked hard to establish solid working relationships with officials while its overarching goal for a new training center was to build something great for trainers, owners, riders, and workers, and, most importantly, for the horses.

“The horse comes first,” stated John Ridley, Capital Racing Projects Director. “A contented horse gives his all.”

CHECK OUT THIS TIME-LAPSE VIDEO OF THE TURF INSTALLATION

As a result, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has worked hard to make Conghua a showpiece Thoroughbred facility, with a 2000m turf track (a 400m home straight with a one percent rise and a 674m home bend with transitional curves) with the same grass profile as Sha Tin, as well as large and small all-weather tracks, two trotting rings, and a 1100m turf uphill gallop sloped at a continuous 1.5 percent slope.

Two trainers per divided stable, each with 34 stables and eight turn-out yards per wing, as well as two larger-than-usual isolated stallion stalls, inside and outside wash stalls, and two covered walking machines are included in the eight single story and one double story stable blocks for horses in training.

A total of 664 individual CCTV monitored stalls, an equine clinic, chilled salt-water baths, aqua treadmills, a water walker, a covered and heated 70m long swimming pool, and 20 turf paddocks with shelter, feed bins, and automatic water are available.

Ideal environment for stallion prospects

Horses will never come into contact with automobiles because each has its own access points, and deliveries will be made away from the stables to avoid causing any inconvenience.

The provision of paddocks outside of the stables and racetrack is a huge step forward for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, with Engelbrecht-Bresges recognizing that Sha Tin is “an intense environment” for young horses.

It will allow horses to be imported at an earlier age because they will have more time to develop, mature, and acclimate, and it will be easier to keep promising males whole, thanks to the stallion boxes.

“Our prize money levels are appealing, but we need to keep adding value to the ownership experience,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said, adding that Hong Kong is a good location for breeding stallion possibilities.

“Our racing is of great quality, it is drug-free, and breeders know that a stallion who has raced in Hong Kong is genetically sound and unaffected by medication.”

Given that it was a timely discussion, Archipenko (who sadly died lately), winner of the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin in 2008, was represented at this year’s International meeting by a great winner, Time Travel capturing the G1 Hong Kong International Cup with aplomb.

Meanwhile, recent victories in Hong Kong have done a lot to boost the reputation of such stud prospects. Maurice , Kanaloa, Lord and Scottish Reel .

Caspar Fownes, one of the first trainers to add a base at Conghua to his Sha Tin stables, said he “feels very honoured” to be a part of the new facility.

“It’s an exceptional state-of-the-art training complex with access to various useful facilities that we don’t generally have in Hong Kong, such as spelling paddocks, uphill gallops, and water walkers.” I am confident that I will be able to take advantage of the setup.”

According to John Ridley, Conghua was built with “future extension in mind.” We can keep growing over time.”

An 1100m turf uphill gallop sloped at a continuous 1.5 percent is a feature of the complex. Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

The complex includes a 1100m turf uphill gallop with a continuous 1.5 percent grade. Hong Kong Jockey Club photo

Not only will there be more stables and tracks, but there will also be capacity for the equine clinic to expand, with plans for MRI, CT, and scintigraphy equipment in the future. The veterinary care is of such high quality that Dr. Christopher Riggs, Head Of Veterinary Clinical Services, remarked, “I know where I’d want to live if I were a horse!” ”

Assuring that racehorses never come into touch with disease has been a major difficulty in the establishment of Conghua. Horse care is critical, first and foremost for their personal well-being and, second, for the horse racing and Hong Kong economies.

“We will not compromise on horse health,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said, noting that the Hong Kong Jockey Club pays HK$12 billion in taxes per year, or around 4% to 5% of Hong Kong’s total revenue. “As a result, the administration does not want us to take any chances.”

Conghua’s security is extremely tight (comings and goings are monitored by both the Club and government officials), and the training center is located in the middle of a 2000-square-kilometer horse-free zone. There are no horses along the route, which is 1km on each side of the motorway. “Even if horses must be unloaded for any reason,” said Dr. Brian Stewart, Head Of Veterinary Regulation And Biosecurity Policy.

Electrified fencing and buried concrete

Dr Stewart stated that the 2.3 meter high electrified fencing surrounding Conghua (supported by 600mm of buried concrete to prevent burrowing) is carefully constructed to make it impossible for a wild animal to enter the borders, keeping in mind that illnesses such as rabies are present in China.

“There’s just so much on the line,” he explained. while recognizing that “humans are the greatest risk.” As a result, tight processes are in place, which are supervised by quarantine officials from around the world, and everyone engaged is highly trained and experienced.

“Over the past 25 years, Hong Kong has safely imported and exported hundreds of horses, and we have successfully managed international racing events, temporarily importing up to 40 Thoroughbreds from several nations each year,” Dr Stewart said. Our disease surveillance and prevention programs are unparalleled.”

Every horse in Hong Kong has its temperature monitored twice daily, and any horse exhibiting fever symptoms is tested immediately. “This is the most effective and sensitive approach for early detection.”

The owners’ lounge at Conghua will be impressively equipped. Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

Conghua’s owners’ lounge will be beautifully equipped. Hong Kong Jockey Club photo

Around 450 individuals have been sent from Hong Kong to work at Conghua, while locals (nearly 1,500 applied when 100 stable-assistant posts were advertised, and similar numbers applied for riders) will be trained at the Huangcun Sports Institute. Since 2016, twenty-five track riders, who also train at Sha Tin, have been in training.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has also had to persuade local horse owners that moving their horses over the border is a smart idea. The normal Hong Kong horse owner is intensely involved with his or her horse, while the average Hong Kong resident rarely needs to travel. They aren’t used to their horses spending a lot of time in floats, either.

As a result, the Club is publishing a regular newsletter to keep owners informed, with international comparison as one assurance. “The travel is roughly the distance from York to Newmarket if you take a regular English route,” said KL Cheng, Head Of Dual Site Stable Operations And Owners’ Services.

Each convoy of trucks will be accompanied by a security car, a veterinarian, and a mechanic, as well as dedicated trip grooms. The route is tracked by live GPS, with each horse’s CCTV vision (and recording) and regular reporting to control centers in Sha Tin and Conghua.

Minimum border checks

There have already been several successful horse-movement trials. There will have been 18 in total, with the journey taking slightly under five hours. With a customs clearance station erected in Conghua, there are very minimal border checks. When everything is up and running, there will be return trips twice a week, up one day and back the next.

The floats were created with the comfort of both the grooms and the horses in mind. Dr. Riggs explained, “Each horse will have its own enclosed stall but will be able to see, hear, and smell the horses next to it.” “The horses have enough room to lower their heads to the ground, which is beneficial to their health.” We also want the horses to be calm for the extended journey.”

The visiting owner will feel relaxed as well, with a tailored luxury coach on standby to carry those eager to see their horses to Conghua, and an impressively furnished owners’ lounge serviced by owners’ ambassadors.

At Conghua, monthly barrier trials will be held, and owners with runners will be eligible for a free package that includes transportation, overnight accommodations, and meals at a five-star resort, as well as local sightseeing and golf trips.

As a result, it appears that no stone has been left unturned. It was clearly a massive undertaking including input from a wide range of professionals. Unfortunately, there are ongoing complications with the Australian Department Of Agriculture And Water Resources, which has declined to provide authorisation thus far, resulting in no Australian representation at the 2017 meeting. Australian horses are free to travel; it is only difficult for them to return (a six-month New Zealand stopover required).

Meanwhile, the HKJC anticipates the opening of the Conghua in August, following which HK$1.5 billion would be spent on Sha Tin renovations.

Hong Kong does not rest on its laurels. “In everything we do, we aim for excellence,” Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges stated.

People also ask

Why are Hong Kong races abandoned?

No Hong Kong race meetings have been lost because of the pandemic and Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding confirmed Wednesday night’s nine-race card at Happy Valley is expected to go ahead as planned.

Why are Happy Valley races abandoned?

Jockey Club cancels Happy Valley race meeting over threat of anti-government protesters. “But I can understand the decision. With the turmoil going on in Hong Kong, we’ve got to protect the safety of all concerned – not only the jockeys but the horses and the racing public.”

How many horses are in training in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has just 1,400 racehorses in training, or less than one per cent of the global total. Despite this, and despite Hong Kong having no breeding industry, Hong Kong has some of the world’s best racehorses. In 2020, a total of 17 Hong Kong horses featured in the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

Do fillies race in Hong Kong?

There is basically no 2yo racing in Hong Kong . Horses tend to be between 3 and 8 years old. Also, because owners become owners to race their horses rather than to breed from them, there are not a lot of fillies and mares.

Do mares race in Hong Kong?

Very few mares or fillies are given a chance in Hong Kong. Given that most horses are brought over as proven or strong prospects of being a proven performer, there are few races for two and three-year old horses, unlike Australian racing.

How are horses kept in Hong Kong?

Whilst horses can be kept at home in other countries, horses in Hong Kong can only be kept in riding schools, where yard staff from the riding school are responsible for managing the husbandry instead.

Who won the Hong Kong Derby 2021?

Sky Darci

Past winners

YearWinnerTrainer
2021Sky DarciCaspar Fownes
2020Golden Sixty †Francis Lui Kin-wai
2019FuroreFrankie Lor Fu-chuen
2018Ping Hai StarJohn Size

What happens to retired racehorses in Hong Kong?

Some of the lesser performing retirees are sent to riding schools in Hong Kong, where they are closely monitored, while others are sent to ranches in various countries, including the mainland, with the Jockey Club helping owners with transportation costs.

Why are Hong Kong races abandoned?

No Hong Kong race meetings have been lost because of the pandemic and Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding confirmed Wednesday night’s nine-race card at Happy Valley is expected to go ahead as planned.

Why are Happy Valley races abandoned?

Jockey Club cancels Happy Valley race meeting over threat of anti-government protesters. “But I can understand the decision. With the turmoil going on in Hong Kong, we’ve got to protect the safety of all concerned – not only the jockeys but the horses and the racing public.”

How many horses are in training in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has just 1,400 racehorses in training, or less than one per cent of the global total. Despite this, and despite Hong Kong having no breeding industry, Hong Kong has some of the world’s best racehorses. In 2020, a total of 17 Hong Kong horses featured in the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

Do fillies race in Hong Kong?

There is basically no 2yo racing in Hong Kong . Horses tend to be between 3 and 8 years old. Also, because owners become owners to race their horses rather than to breed from them, there are not a lot of fillies and mares.

Do mares race in Hong Kong?

Very few mares or fillies are given a chance in Hong Kong. Given that most horses are brought over as proven or strong prospects of being a proven performer, there are few races for two and three-year old horses, unlike Australian racing.

How are horses kept in Hong Kong?

Whilst horses can be kept at home in other countries, horses in Hong Kong can only be kept in riding schools, where yard staff from the riding school are responsible for managing the husbandry instead.

Who won the Hong Kong Derby 2021?

Sky Darci

Past winners

YearWinnerTrainer
2021Sky DarciCaspar Fownes
2020Golden Sixty †Francis Lui Kin-wai
2019FuroreFrankie Lor Fu-chuen
2018Ping Hai StarJohn Size

What happens to retired racehorses in Hong Kong?

Some of the lesser performing retirees are sent to riding schools in Hong Kong, where they are closely monitored, while others are sent to ranches in various countries, including the mainland, with the Jockey Club helping owners with transportation costs.

Why are Hong Kong races abandoned?

No Hong Kong race meetings have been lost because of the pandemic and Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding confirmed Wednesday night’s nine-race card at Happy Valley is expected to go ahead as planned.

Why are Happy Valley races abandoned?

Jockey Club cancels Happy Valley race meeting over threat of anti-government protesters. “But I can understand the decision. With the turmoil going on in Hong Kong, we’ve got to protect the safety of all concerned – not only the jockeys but the horses and the racing public.”

How many horses are in training in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has just 1,400 racehorses in training, or less than one per cent of the global total. Despite this, and despite Hong Kong having no breeding industry, Hong Kong has some of the world’s best racehorses. In 2020, a total of 17 Hong Kong horses featured in the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

Do fillies race in Hong Kong?

There is basically no 2yo racing in Hong Kong . Horses tend to be between 3 and 8 years old. Also, because owners become owners to race their horses rather than to breed from them, there are not a lot of fillies and mares.

Do mares race in Hong Kong?

Very few mares or fillies are given a chance in Hong Kong. Given that most horses are brought over as proven or strong prospects of being a proven performer, there are few races for two and three-year old horses, unlike Australian racing.

How are horses kept in Hong Kong?

Whilst horses can be kept at home in other countries, horses in Hong Kong can only be kept in riding schools, where yard staff from the riding school are responsible for managing the husbandry instead.

Who won the Hong Kong Derby 2021?

Sky Darci

Past winners

YearWinnerTrainer
2021Sky DarciCaspar Fownes
2020Golden Sixty †Francis Lui Kin-wai
2019FuroreFrankie Lor Fu-chuen
2018Ping Hai StarJohn Size

What happens to retired racehorses in Hong Kong?

Some of the lesser performing retirees are sent to riding schools in Hong Kong, where they are closely monitored, while others are sent to ranches in various countries, including the mainland, with the Jockey Club helping owners with transportation costs.

Can a gelding run in the Triple Crown?

Gelded colts may run in any of the three races today, but they were prohibited from entering the Belmont between 1919 and 1957. Geldings have won each of the individual races, but like fillies, no gelding has ever won the Triple Crown. The closest was Funny Cide, who won the Derby and the Preakness in 2003.

Is a gelding a boy or girl?

…male horse is called a stallion, the female a mare. A stallion used for breeding is known as a stud. A castrated stallion is commonly called a gelding. Formerly, stallions were employed as riding horses, while mares were kept for breeding purposes only.

Will gelding a stallion calm him down?

Gelding a horse, similarly to spaying or neutering a cat or dog, often helps calm him down and improve his overall temperament.

What is Griffin in Hong Kong?

A Griffin is a horse of two or three years of age which has been imported to Hong Kong without previously racing. The honour is part of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Champion Awards and is awarded at the end of the Hong Kong season in July.

What is C1 in horse racing?

These are the easiest to understand as a horse must not have won more races than appears after the class. Eg a C1 is for horses having won one race or less, a class 6 is open to any horses having won 6 races or last.

Is gelding cruel?

– Gelding is unnatural and cruel. According to PEARLSC, gelding horses to control breeding and temperament dates back 4,000 years: “It can be painful if surgery is not followed up with the correct aftercare, especially if you wait until the horse hits puberty.

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