Owners a scratch as Sha Tin races go on

Top News | Jane Cheung 30 Mar 2020

Owners were not able to cheer their horses on and celebrate at the winner's circle after the Hong Kong Jockey Club implemented tougher measures at the Sha Tin racecourse yesterday.

This came after the HKJC announced on Wednesday that only owners with starters can attend the races. Other racegoers have been barred from the races since February 8.

Complete closed-door arrangements were announced on Friday, barring all racegoers including owners with starters.

The club said it believes this would "fully comply with new regulation" as "the Sha Tin racecourse is a workplace for club stable staff, licensed persons and racing media."

The turnover of yesterday's 10-card races was HK$1.372 billion, slightly lower than the previous Sunday's HK$1.379 billion.

The club also arranged for its own staff to interview jockeys and trainers on behalf of reporters to comply with the ban on public gatherings of four or more people.

A punter surnamed Cheung said the arrangement did not affect him, as he was used to betting online and watching the live broadcast at home.

"I think it's a safe measure. We've seen cases of cats and dogs being infected by the coronavirus, it'd be terrible if horses are infected too. If that's the case, they'll have to cancel the races, which is certainly not what we want," he said.

The club adopted partial closed-door arrangements in February and only allowed owners and their guests to attend, while punters could only place bets online as all off-course betting shops were earlier shut.

The HKJC acknowledged the significance of owners instructing trainers and jockeys at the parade ring.

"The regulation creates an ambiguity as to whether horse owners of starters can continue to attend the race meetings," the club said, adding that it will seek clarification from the government for further arrangements.

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com

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