Hong Kong Jockey Club cancels more races as protests grow


hong-kong-jockey-club-cancels-race-meetingThe Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has cancelled a second race meeting due to increasingly violent pro-democracy protests in the special administrative region of China.

On Wednesday, the HKJC announced that the race meeting scheduled for November 13 at Happy Valley Racecourse “has been cancelled to ensure the safety of its employees and racegoers.” The HKJC also announced it was suspending “all Club operations” as of 2pm Wednesday.

The HKJC said it had been “closely” monitoring the ongoing social unrest in Hong Kong and its effect on public transportation, which led the HKJC to conclude that the situation didn’t “support” employees and customers “arriving and particularly departing from the racecourse smoothly and safely.”

This is the second Happy Valley race meeting that the HKJC has been forced to cancel in its current season, which got underway on September 1. On September 18, the HKJC canceled the day’s activity over fears that protesters would target the track due to one of the horses involved belonging to a controversial pro-Beijing lawmaker.

The social unrest, which saw both sides of the conflict taking more violent actions this week, also resulted in the HKJC closing all off-course betting branches at 5pm Tuesday, while Tuesday’s Mark Six lottery draw was postponed to Thursday.

With all bets on Wednesday’s racing having to be refunded, the cancellation is expected to cost Hong Kong’s government around HK$130m (US$166k) in lost revenue as there’s no space on the HKJC calendar to reschedule the canceled events. Fears are mounting that the HKJC could be forced to cancel its Hong Kong International Races, the marquee event of the HKJC season scheduled for December 8.

This really isn’t the HKJC’s week, having just announced the arrests of six of its employees – four stable staff and two trainers – on suspicion of providing “privileged information” to an illegal bookmaking operation.