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Hong Kong trainers in chaos

Steve Bennett in News 19 Sep 2019
  • Fears the unrest could cause more cancelled meetings
An empty Happy Valley Circuit

The ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong has now affected the racing industry and is causing havoc for trainers.

Australian trainer John Moore was left pondering when the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) pulled the pin on Wednesday night’s meeting at the last minute, leaving him and many others wondering.

Trainer - John Moore

“I didn’t see this coming because racing is such an important contributor to charities and society in itself; This has caught me off guard a bit,” he said. 
“I thought racing would go through because it’s charitable and it’s important to Hong Kong to keep things going smoothly, I didn’t think anything was going to happen to racing.
“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.”

The meeting was cancelled amid fears of backlash towards pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, whose horse, Hong Kong Bet (trained by Tony Cruiz), was entered for Wednesday night’s meeting.

Ho publicly defended the protesters who indiscriminately attacked civilians in Yuen Long in July, where a campaign begun to have his Jockey Club membership revoked and his horse withdrawn from all races.

Other trainers shared Moore’s views, adding their concerns of where (and when) their horses will find their next race among an already clogged season. 

Local trainer Chris So Wai-yin voiced his concerns over his stable of runners.

Trainer - Chris So

“I am very surprised, and it’s not good for anyone but there is nothing we can do about that but,” So said.  
“I don’t have any plans for these horses now, I have to look and see what the next step can be.   
“It is tough on the owners, we planned everything for Wednesday night so that needs to change now. 
“At the moment I am searching through the program so we can replan for all of the horses.”

Happy Valley specialist trainer, Caspar Fownes was quick to agree with So.

Trainer - Caspar Fownes

“Obviously there were horses targeted for these races and for the following week I’ve got other horses targeted, so we have got to try and mix and match now to see what goes where,” he said. 
“Most of these horses I would expect to be given protection status for their next entry. We just have to see what the club will do, do they put on another meeting?”

There are fears that future race meetings could face a similar fate, with the Jockey Club’s long-term stance on Ho and Hong Kong Bet remaining unknown.

The HKJC last lost a meeting 12 months ago when Typhoon Mangkhut hit but that was replaced in December. 

The gaps in this season’s schedule are few and far between and finding a spot may prove difficult.

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Hong Kong trainers in chaos

The ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong has now affected the racing industry and is causing havoc for trainers.

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