Agreement To Allow HKJC To Host Racing at Conghua

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Conghua Racecourse | HKJC photo

An agreement executed Friday by the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) with the Guangzhou Municipal Government is set to strengthen the Club's foothold on the Chinese Mainland, with the prospect of staging “international-standard' racing at Conghua Racecourse (CRC), heretofore known as the Conghua Training Centre (CTC).

Located about 200 kilometres and approximately a three-hour car trip (four hours by horse float) from Hong Kong, Conghua was opened to great fanfare in 2018. Built on 150 hectares on a site that hosted the equestrian events at the 2010 Asian Games, the state-of-the-art facility presented an opportunity to ship horses away from the rugged, concrete environment of Sha Tin Racecourse into a more serene and remote location, with stabling for over 600 horses, training tracks and accommodations for staff. Horses routinely return from a spell at Conghua refreshed and revived.

The HKJC successfully staged five exhibition races (non pari-mutuel) at Conghua in March 2019, the first time Hong Kong horses had raced competitively on the Mainland. The HKJC reported that some 1,700 Mainland residents were on hand. A similar event was scheduled to take place in 2020, but those plans were scuppered by the coronavirus outbreak.

The agreement signed Friday allow for the HKJC to conduct racing at CTC “under the Club's racing rules and regulations based on international best practices.” A regular racing programme could commence as soon as 2025.

The Club also announced plans to upgrade the infrastructure at CTC, including the construction of a “new and iconic grandstand” in addition to extra stabling, training facilities and expanded staff accommodations. The municipal government has agreed to build an additional access road to the facility.

A third key component of the agreement is the development of an “equine value chain,” including an international equine quarantine facility and other equine-related initiatives, such as veterinary professional development and the exploration of a Thoroughbred trading centre and the promotion of equestrian sports in Guangzhou.

“Building on our respective strengths, this Agreement will substantially deepen the Club's strategic cooperative partnership with the Guangzhou Municipal Government with the aim of achieving our shared vision of the Guangzhou-Hong Kong Racing Economic Cluster,” said HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. “Since its opening in 2018, CRC has become an integral part of Hong Kong's world-class racing. We will fully leverage CRC's world-class facilities and talent within the Club to implement this exciting, but challenging initiative.”

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