Coronavirus Restrictions Ease in Hong Kong

Steve Bennett Steve Bennett
  • Restrictions ease in Hong Kong
  • Purton & Moreira consider private jet transport
Owners look on at the March 4 Happy Valley meeting (Pic: HK Racing)

 

The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) have begun to relax their attendance restrictions due to the Coronavirus with more members permitted to attend meetings.

For the past month, only essential staff, jockeys and owners and trainers of horses engaged in the meeting have been permitted to enter the track and then only after passing an initial security health check.

With these restrictions in place, no more than around 500 people attended the race meetings at both Happy Valley and Sha Tin.

Empty seats watch the Happy Valley meeting on March 4 (Pic: HK Racing)

No health incidents have been reported in that time and after reviewing the situation, the HKJC have decided to extend the list of attendees to include the ‘voting members’ who have seasonal tables reserved.

Whilst there are less than 400 voting members, it is still a step forward to seeing more people return to the track as the Hong Kong Derby meeting rapidly approaches on March 22, followed by the Champion’s Day set down for April 26.

Despite the positive move, cross-betting remains closed while there are no betting services available at any of the 101 off-course betting branches. People who wish to place a bet must remain using the available on-line systems.

Meanwhile the Coronavirus has affected Hong Kong’s leading jockeys, but not in an infectious way.

Premiership front-runners Joao Moreira (84 wins) and Zac Purton (77 wins) may have to consider taking a ‘private’ jet after their engagements in Dubai for the Dubai World Cup on March 28.

Purton & Moreira (Pic: SCMP)

Airlines are drastically reducing flights into Hong Kong which may leave the rival jockeys stranded overnight, meaning they would miss the meeting at Sha Tin the following day (Sunday).

When asked about the possibility of flying a privately hired plane, Moreira told the South China Morning Post he was all for the idea.

“Of course, I want to ride on the [Sunday after Dubai],” he said.

“It sounds like we wouldn’t be the only ones to benefit from it which makes it even more sensible, I hope it works. I knew there was a chance that this could happen.

“If it is a private plane, it could get us home even earlier and then maybe we could ride the full card.”

The HKJC is currently reviewing the situation and considering all possibilities.