HKJC Olympic Equestrian Facilities Progressing

By Tracy Gantz
The Hong Kong Jockey Club reported on the progress of its construction of new facilities for the 2008 Olympic equestrian events during the week of its Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races. While the 2008 Olympic Games will be held in Beijing, the equestrian events will be held in Hong Kong.

John P. Ridley, head of racing operations for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which conducts Thoroughbred racing at Sha Tin and Happy Valley racecourses, outlined the modifications currently under way at the Hong Kong Sports Institute and Penfold Park.

"This should show that Hong Kong can put on a large sporting event," Ridley said. "We have an ever-expanding interest in equestrian events. There are 1,500 people on the waiting list for riding lessons."

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has been working on the construction for the past year and-a-half. The new facilities will include a main competition arena for dressage and show jumping with a seating capacity of about 18,000, 13 training arenas for dressage and show jumping, a temporary cross-country course at the Hong Kong Golf Club and the adjacent Beas River Country Club, a cross-country training track and schooling area, and a 1,200-meter bridle track at Penfold Park. The Club will also make a turf gallop track available at Sha Tin. Racing will be suspended for the duration of the Olympic events.

The Club's equine hospital facilities will be available for the Games, as will its on-site racing laboratory. The lab is already testing Federation Equestre Internationale samples and since 2001 has been the FEI's sole reference lab in Asia.