All bets off for Ho horse

Top News | Jane Cheung 20 Sep 2019

Beleaguered legislator Junius Ho Kwan-yiu says his racehorse, Hong Kong Bet - which he referred to as an innocent victim in the political mayhem - will not run again until the unrest is over.

Ho's announcement came a day after the Hong Kong Jockey Club canceled Wednesday night's meeting.

The unprecedented move came as pro-democracy protesters planned to crowd the Happy Valley racecourse and heckle as Ho's horse was set to run in the first race.

The pro-establishment solicitor-legislator was claimed to be gangster-friendly after a large-scale assault by white-shirted men on pro-democracy protesters and passengers at the MTR Yuen Long station on July 21.

He was seen greeting some of the white shirts and was claimed to have had a hand in organizing the strife.

Ho said he will put Hong Kong Bet - co-owned with Wilson Ho Wai-shing and Bruce Lee Sing-keung - on hold until "the current unrest has come to an end."

That decision was reached, he said, to safeguard the lawful rights of racing fans while adding the horse also had rights.

"The horse is innocent," he said. "We can't deprive Hong Kong Bet from its right to gallop We talk about human rights every day. Animals have their basic rights too.

"Secondly, ordinary social order and the stability of the SAR should not be destroyed because of political factors.

"I reiterate: Hong Kong Bet is innocent. Loving the country and Hong Kong is not a crime."

Also on the lost meeting, a former president of the Racehorse Owners Association said the club made the right decision in calling off racing as it could have been dangerous if protesters directed laser beams - usually turned on police during street action - at horses.

Apollo Ng Shung, who has owned five racehorses, also noted on a radio program yesterday that some people had said canceling the entire night's racing because of one horse was unfair. But Ng said it would not have been fair if the club only canceled the first race.

Ng said the cancellation meant losses of around HK$100 million in tax revenue and HK$50 million in charitable donations by the club.

Commentator Simon Leung Ho-yin said in another radio interview that he understood the club's decision because it "dared not play by the risks."

He added: "The club is responsible for ensuring attendees' safety. In case of clashes at the site it'd be difficult to arrange transportation to disperse the crowds.

"Next time they should examine the social atmosphere before approving a horse's application in joining a race."

The Jockey Club said yesterday it had yet to decide whether to hold another meeting to make up for the lost one.

But if there was to be another meeting the club would need approval from the Home Affairs Bureau after setting a date.

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