Security Tightens at Hong Kong racetracks as coronavirus cuts crowds further

Steve Bennett Steve Bennett
  • Security tightens over coronavirus
  • Further lockouts to come
An empty mounting yard at Sha Tin

 

Crowds will be as low as 400 at Hong Kong’s premier racetracks as the HK Jockey Club follows new government demands.

Only key personnel, jockeys, trainers and owners (with race starters) will be permitted entrance to the next three race meetings in Hong Kong.

That’s the latest move from the Hong Kong Jockey Club as they enforce the government’s demands to step up security against the Coronavirus.

This new move comes into effect from February 12 which includes this Wednesday Night’s Happy Valley meeting along with next Sunday’s dual Group One meeting at Sha Tin.

While those aforementioned people will be allowed to enter the facilities, they will all be subject to temperature screening and advised to wear masks at all times.

Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges told the media that these steps were necessary as it was the only way to ensure these race meetings go ahead.

“We think that by having 400 people or less on track means there is minimal risk of spreading the virus,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

“With 700,000 to 800,000 fans watching our races on TV, it helps keep people at home rather than out on the streets and therefore helps to contain the situation.

“We really think it is important to keep racing and provide a source of entertainment in these circumstances. If we stop racing, it is likely we won’t be back for about three months.”

HKJC CEO, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges

The Jockey Club has been seen to be doing it’s part by closing all of it’s 101 betting branches and nine of its telebet lines. Automated and online services are still running.

It comes as no surprise that due to these measures, the turnover has taken a mammoth hit with Saturday’s Sha Tin meeting down HK$410 million on last year’s corresponding fixture to HK$1.166 billion.

Next Sunday’s two Group One events are the Hong Kong Gold Cup, with Exultant out to defend his title, and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup where Beat The Clock, Beauty Generation and Hot King Prawn will clash again.

Due to the ‘lockout’, the Jockey Club has issued a statement.

“We would like to ask for the understanding of our customers for these additional measures, which are being introduced to protect the health of both customers and employees”.

“We apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused.”

The Happy Valley meeting on Wednesday (February 19) will also fall under the new security measures.

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