One minute's silence marks tribute to jockey

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 March, 1999, 12:00am

Those who knew her best said goodbye to apprentice Willy Kan Wai-yue when total silence enveloped Sha Tin racecourse on the stroke of 7pm last night.

There was no sound from the tears that slipped slowly down many cheeks.

The ticket-selling machines that churn through the millions of dollars that keep Hong Kong racing going fell silent.

The flashing odds on the two huge totalisator boards on the course - and those across the territory at the city track - faded into blackness.

On the Sha Tin Diamond Vision screen, Kan's smiling face appeared for the last time with the simple message: In Loving Memory Of Willy Kan.

Jockey Club officials, racing media and the thousands of ordinary racegoers who took the 20-year-old to their hearts stood or sat with heads bowed for 60 thoughtful, silent seconds.

There were 9,574 racegoers at Sha Tin and another 2,753 at Happy Valley when the one-minute vigil began.

When the totalisator boards lit up again and her picture flicked off the Diamond Vision screen and into memory, there was still a sombre silence.

There was no rush to get back into the everyday and night action that takes place on Sha Tin racecourse.

In the paddock, owners, trainers and jockeys, wearing black arm bands in tribute, stood still and mafoos walking the horses for the opening event paused.

It was almost a perfect moment to remember the vibrant young rider, whose death has shocked Hong Kong racing as no other event has in its long history.

But, here and there, flash bulbs popped as members of the public took pictures of the giant screen.

Some punters tried placing bets immediately before 7pm, only to have the female ticket-sellers step back from the machines.

In various areas of Sha Tin, the smell of incense wafted into the night air, outlining where joss sticks had been burned in her memory.