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By Darren Winningham | Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The one and only WINNO, representing www.horseracingonly.co.au, has arrived safely in Hong Kong and he is all set to provide another outstanding week of racing coverage of the Longines International Jockeys Challenge at Happy Valley on Wednesday and, the big one, the Longines Hong Kong International Races on Sunday. To kick off, here WINNO looks at the unusual outside influences that might be in play during the 2019 edition of this global event. Be sure to watch this space for on-going coverage of one of the biggest weeks on the world racing calendar.

With the continued unrest in Hong Kong and the international media coverage it is receiving the question for the 2019 LONGINES International Race program is … will the tourists and the usual hoards racing fans make the trip to Hong Kong amidst the clashes between protestors and the authorities.

There have been two cancellations of meetings scheduled at Happy Valley in recent months. The first meeting cancelled was 18 September and then less than a month ago another meeting was cancelled on 13 November.

The cancellation of Happy Valley’s meetings has serious ramifications – costing the Hong Kong government about HK$130 million per meeting while leaving a host of unanswered questions for the Hong Kong Jockey Club just weeks before the international races.

The cancellation of these meetings has nothing to do with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and is all about the flammable and unpredictable environment in Hong Kong.
This is a situation the Jockey Club cannot control and if this level of hostility continues – or gets worse – other meetings are likely to be at the mercy of the disorder.

The Jockey Club have undertaken widespread consultation since the protests started focused on risk minimisation to protect the biggest days of racing on the calendar.

Officials have moved to ensure the event is the best it could possibly be, even sending a delegation to Japan to reassure owners and trainers that it is safe for them and their horses.

The result was securing a commitment from the connections of Japanese trained horses to still bring their horses to the LONGINES International Race Day.

With the latest escalation, the destructive events at the Chinese University of Hong Kong it would only be natural those internationals and tourists who planned on making the trip to HKIR are second-guessing themselves in coming to Hong Kong.

I really hope for the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the LONGINES International Race day that visitors come to this international event to see a wonderful spectacle. I have been on the ground 48 hours so far and I feel perfectly safe – but I do understand that some may consider it unsafe to attend.

Let’s hope that the meetings at Happy Valley and Sha Tin are spared any turmoil from the protestors as horse racing does bring revenue for the government that benefits the Hong Kong residents by way of funds for medical facilities, schools and other public amenities.

If you have never attended these races – and if you want a holiday or want to treat yourself to a wonderful experience, I would suggest that you place the dates in your calendar for December 2020 and get along to one of the most prestigious and featured sporting events in the World.

And finally – yes mum, I will stay away from the protestors and the tear gas – I promise!

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Winno … at Sha Tin
Winno … at Sha Tin
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