The Hong Kong Jockey Club canceled all races planned for Wednesday after pro-democracy protesters said they would target the world-famous Happy Valley racecourse where a horse part-owned by a pro-Beijing lawmaker was due to run.
The Jockey Club said it had been “monitoring the situation” closely in Hong Kong, which has been rocked my more than three months of sometimes violent protests.
“It has conducted a thorough risk assessment of the race meeting tonight and concluded that it should be canceled in order to preserve the security and safety of people and horses,” the club said in a statement.
“Our concerns are tied to potential social unrest in the vicinity tonight, the very real threat of a disturbance or possible violence at Happy Valley Racecourse, and uncertainty regarding transportation in and around Happy Valley and Causeway Bay for racegoers, jockeys and employees and horses entering or leaving the racecourse throughout the evening,” a spokesperson said.
“This is a very difficult and most unfortunate decision to make, but public safety is of paramount importance to the Club. We hope the racing community and the Hong Kong public will understand our reasons for doing so.”
The club said it will provide further information on wagering refunds and racecourse bookings in due course.
One horse scheduled to run in the evening program is part-owned by lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, who has taken a firm line on the protesters, calling them “black-shirted thugs”.
In July, his office in Tsuen Wan was vandalized by masked men after a video showed him shaking hands with suspected gangsters who had earlier indiscriminately attacked people in Yuen Long.
Ho was not immediately available for comment.
Happy Valley, nestled in the hills of Hong Kong Island, is a tightly populated, up-market residential area next to the Causeway Bay shopping district. There has been a horse-racing track there since just after British colonial rule began in the mid-1800s. With Reuters
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