A momentous new era in Hong Kong racing began on Thursday with the arrival of the first in-training horses at Conghua Training Centre (CTC) on the Chinese Mainland, marking the integration of CTC into the Hong Kong training system.
The shipment of 21 horses – seven each from the Dennis Yip, Me Tsui and Chris So stables arrived at the Conghua Training Centre on Thursday morning, marking the commencement of dual-site operations for Hong Kong’s active horse population.
The next convoy of in-training horses is due to depart Sha Tin on Monday, carrying 14 horses trained by John Size and six horses from the Paul O’Sullivan yard. By mid-August, almost 140 horses – including 25 from the stable of Size, who is set to clinch his 10th championship on Sunday – will call CTC home. In addition to the five stables represented in the first two shipments, horses trained by Danny Shum, Caspar Fownes, Tony Cruz and John Moore will be transported to Conghua.
Trainer Chris So with G3-placed sprinter Fabulous One in his new stables in Conghua, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Thursday's arrivals came after 35 retired horses belonging to the Club’s Racing Development Board (RDB) stable successfully shipped to CTC in two batches in mid-June.
Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “The beginning of dual-site operations for Hong Kong’s active horse population is a significant achievement. Today is a historic moment for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The Equine Disease Free Zone means that horses are afforded the same health status, whether trained at Sha Tin or CTC, so the horses that have arrived today are able to return to Hong Kong to race at any time.
“Today is the culmination of many years of work by many different people, both in Hong Kong and on the Chinese Mainland. It is one of the most significant and complex racing projects anywhere in the world and demonstrates the Club’s unwavering commitment to the continuing excellence of Hong Kong racing.”
“The horses that have arrived at CTC today are the first in-training horses to take advantage of this world-class establishment. They will be trained out of state-of-the-art stables with access to some of the finest training facilities in the world, including the first uphill gallop available to Hong Kong’s horse population.”
Trainer Chris So had seven horses on today’s shipment, including G3-placed sprinter Fabulous One. He said: “I am excited to embrace the CTC concept, especially given the Club has invested a lot of expertise and resources into the project. I believe it will be a good addition to our training systems - our older horses will benefit from a freshen-up and a change of environment, while the younger horses will settle into the Hong Kong environment quicker in a quieter, more relaxed space like CTC.
"Fabulous One is a good example. He has already had the experience of travelling to Dubai, so the trip up to CTC should be easy for him. We hope that he will be a trailblazer, in that we will give him some time up here during the summer but we hope to bring him back for the first meeting of next season to run in the HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup."
Conghua Training Centre will officially open on 28 August with a special ceremony.