A mislaid gardening tool has caused the first ever no-race ruling in the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s illustrious 132-year history.
On Wednesday night, the Happy Valley racecourse was forced to void all wagers on a Class Four sprint as well as the card’s Jockey Challenge after an errant rake prevented eight of the 12 stall gates from opening on time.
A post mortem examination of the incident revealed that a track worker leaned his rake against the side of the stalls after performing routine maintenance on the track following the previous race. Rakes are normally stored in a gap in the barrier structure but on this occasion the rake was stored in a more upright position than usual.
The HKJC declared the result as a no-race, forcing them to refund a total of HKD 126m (US $16.2m) that had been wagered. The Jockey Challenge, which ordinarily attracts between HKD 8m-11m, was abandoned. Multi-pool bets were paid out according to consolation rules.
The South China Morning Post quoted HKJC CEO Winifried Engelbrecht-Bresges saying that the Club was reviewing the incident to ensure no future occurrences of this nature, and had summoned the barrier stalls manufacturer to verify there were no residual issues.
Acknowledging that horse owners had lost an opportunity via the cockup, Engelbrecht-Bresges said there was “another, similar race programmed at Happy Valley in a few weeks” and the affected owners “have been given added protection so that their next entry is prioritized, whether for that race or any other race.”
In more positive HKJC news, the track recently announced a commingling pool-betting deal with Toronto’s Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) that took effect Oct. 23. In addition to Canadian punters being able to wager directly into HKJC betting pools, HKJC races will now be broadcast live in Cantonese to Canadian viewers via TVBI Company Ltd. and Fairchild TV. The HKJC expects to ink a similar deal in British Columbia before the end of the year.