Coronavirus quarantine measures leave Conghua off-limits for Hong Kong trainers and jockeys
Hong Kong-based riders and trainers will not travel to the Jockey Club’s Conghua racecourse in the mainland because of the government’s decision to impose a quarantine on any person arriving from China.
The 13 trainers with stables at the HK$3.7 billion facility are unable to visit for the foreseeable future as restrictions following the deadly coronavirus outbreak continue to ramp up.
Jockey Club director of racing business and operations Bill Nader confirmed the club had spoken to both groups, warning them of the new measures being imposed and reiterating they will be forced to rely on their Conghua-based staff to run their operations.
The 13 dual-site trainers have had their Sha Tin stable limits lifted from 45 to 51 while the quarantine restrictions are in place in an attempt to boost their stocks in Hong Kong.
“We met with them and they know, there is a 14-day compulsory quarantine so we don’t want them going over,” Nader said.
“It is for the next two weeks and there will be ongoing monitoring to see if the situation is improving at all.
“Fortunately the staff up there are mostly from the mainland although there are some Hong Kong people up there.”
Horses are still currently able to travel seamlessly between Conghua and Hong Kong as they are treated as “freight”.
“A lot of trainers have been going up there on a regular basis but now they have to rely on their teams up there,” Nader said.
“We have the assistant trainers and the head lads up there along with the work riders so they will have to stay at Conghua for a period of time.”
The recent restrictions mean there will be no Hong Kong-based jockeys competing in turf barrier trials at Conghua for the time being.
The riders were told at the beginning of the season that they would be expected to frequent the trials, however Nader conceded “now is not the time”.
“To be fair, the jockeys have been terrific in supporting the Conghua concept, they have been going up for the monthly barrier trials on turf,” he said.
“We talked to them at the beginning of the season about their need to support the investment in Conghua and they have been very good in terms of exceeding our requirement.
“They love going up there, they love the environment but now is not the time to be going up there, it would mean they are on the bench for two weeks so we can’t ask them to do that, we wouldn’t want them to do that.”