Hong Kong International Races ‘Racing Bubble’ documentary
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has been lauded globally for its successful staging of the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien is among several leading racing figures to praise the Hong Kong Jockey Club for its unstinting attention to detail and ‘can-do’ spirit following the 9 December LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley and the glittering LONGINES Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin on 13 December.
Operating in unprecedented circumstances in the face of the pandemic, the Club’s commitment to the well-being of all participants – jockeys, trainers, officials and the entire Hong Kong community – led to a range of safeguards which ensured the safety of all.
From targeted testing, strict social distancing, technological innovation and “loads of determination”, the Club has set an example for others to follow.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “You can have all the processes but, in the end, it depends on are you as an organisation able to pull this off?
“People say that if there’s one organisation in Hong Kong that can pull this off, it is the Jockey Club.
“And we hope this gives an example of how maybe other sports can do this.”
The Club created a ‘Racing Bubble’ in January which William Nader, Director of Racing and Business Operations, said drew the unconditional support of stakeholders.
“It’s had the buy in of owners, trainers, jockeys and staff,” said Nader.
“So for a lot of people to get behind what we’ve had to do for mitigating measures and, it’s been very wide, but it’s been very successful and it’s led us where we are today.”
The ‘Racing Bubble’ has meant no spectators for most of the year and thousands of COVID-19 tests for trainers and jockeys. But Vincent Ho insists the sacrifices are worthwhile.
“If we live like normal, it would be very hard to keep the virus-free bubble,” Ho, rider of Hong Kong champion Golden Sixty, said.
“We try not to have any contact with too many friends or even family members. If we didn’t do that, we definitely wouldn’t be able to have the international races this year.”
Hong Kong has been able to race throughout the pandemic without missing a single meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aidan O’Brien, who won the 2020 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase with Mogul, applauded the Club’s thoroughness.
“I think what they have done is very responsible,” he said. “I don’t think they could have made it any easier and, at the same time, keep everybody as healthy and safe as they can.
“I think it’s been a credit to them really.”
The International Jockeys’ Championship featured six riders from Britain and Europe – Ryan Moore, Hollie Doyle, Tom Marquand, William Buick, Pierre-Charles Boudot and Mickael Barzalona – who were flown to Hong Kong in private jets and then kept in isolation both in private accommodation and on the racecourse, where there was a separate bubble for the visitors.
Interviews with Doyle and Marquand were conducted via an innovative hologram system.
On-course, social distancing protocols were strictly followed to separate local trainers and jockeys from international contestants.
Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges said the club was “extremely proud that we could stage such a global, international event which again shows the uniqueness of Hong Kong and the uniqueness of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
“And it creates value for the community, which I think is extremely important.”
The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s ‘Racing Bubble’ HKIR documentary, featuring behind-the-scenes footage, can be viewed at:
HKJC YouTube Channel