The Hong Kong Jockey Club Conghua Racecourse officially opened on Tuesday, marking the beginning of a new era for the sport of horse racing in Hong Kong and for the ever closer relations between Hong Kong and Guangdong province, China. The Club celebrated this momentous occasion at an opening ceremony attended by more than 500 guests, including government officials from the Mainland and the Hong Kong SAR, Club members and horsemen, as well as partners involved in the development of the project.
Situated in the Conghua District of Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, Conghua Racecourse is the first world-class racecourse and thoroughbred training centre in the Mainland. Operating as part of a dual-site model, Conghua Racecourse complements the existing training centre at Sha Tin. With its state-of-the-art stabling, training and horse-care facilities, it will enable the Club to further develop the quality of its world-class racing.
“The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a world leader in the sport of horse racing and home to some of the world’s top racehorses. Conghua Racecourse will enable us to elevate our racing to an even higher level of excellence,” said Club Chairman Dr Simon S O Ip. “It has outstanding training and horse care facilities, including the first world-class equine hospital in the Mainland. Conghua District itself has high environmental standards, with excellent air and water quality. In short, it is a superb place in which to train our horses.”
The construction of the racecourse, together with the arrangements for its operation, is the product of strong and close co-operation between the Club and Central, Guangdong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong SAR authorities. Expressing his thanks, Dr Simon S O Ip said: “The establishment of Conghua Racecourse is a tremendous achievement, and the Club is truly grateful for the support it has received from Central, Guangdong and Hong Kong SAR authorities. Bureaux, departments and inspection authorities at every level have contributed.”
Essential to Conghua’s operation is its location in the Mainland’s only large-scale internationally recognised equine disease-free zone, which ensures that Hong Kong horses have the same health status in Conghua as in Hong Kong. Under a series of special arrangements agreed between authorities in the Mainland and the Hong Kong SAR, horses are able to travel freely between Conghua and Hong Kong.
“At Conghua, we have highly experienced staff, ranging from racing, tracks and veterinary management to stables staff from Hong Kong, who are working alongside local employees trained under internationally accredited programmes developed in Hong Kong. Together they will provide an excellent level of horse care, equal to that available in Hong Kong,” said Club Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.
Also speaking at the ceremony were Mr Chen Jianhua, Chairman of the Standing Committee of Guangzhou Municipal People’s Congress, and Professor Sophia Chan, Secretary for Food and Health of the Hong Kong SAR.
“After years of persisting efforts by relevant parties, a modern, high-tech, world-class racecourse and China’s largest world-class horse sport training center is now rising in front of us,” said Mr Chen. “The opening of Conghua Racecourse lays a solid foundation for horse industry cooperation between Guangzhou and Hong Kong, opens things up for imagination and presents a promising prospect for development.”
“Together with the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Guangzhou will strengthen policy coordination, deepen pragmatic cooperation to guarantee good operation and development of Conghua Racecourse of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and make it a bond connecting the two sides, a bridge reaching the world, and a benchmark for Guangdong-Hong Kong cooperation,” said Mr Chen.
“The establishment of Conghua Racecourse is a collaborative achievement involving the Hong Kong SAR and the Mainland, building on the strengths of the Mainland’s infrastructural facilities, the Hong Kong SAR Government’s experience in equine inspection and quarantine, and The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s expertise in equestrian sport,” said Professor Sophia Chan. “The establishment of Conghua Racecourse is in line with the direction of the Bay Area development, the equestrian sport and related fields in the area, setting an excellent example of the Bay Area development.”
Conghua Racecourse will also contribute to the development of equine sports in the Mainland as well as to the economy and to employment. This continues the Club’s support for equine sports in the Mainland, including for the equestrian events of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. Some 90% of employees are recruited from Guangdong and the training they will receive will help advance professional standards. Conghua will also become a showcase for the sport of horse racing; the only place in the Mainland to experience world-class horses in action. All of this will help raise Conghua’s profile both nationally and internationally.
Looking forward, Conghua Racecourse has great potential to support the development of an equine industry in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and in the Mainland as a whole. “In other parts of the world, equine industries contribute substantially to the economy and to employment. They could do the same here,” said Dr Ip. “With its world-class expertise, the Club stands ready and willing to give its full support.”
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