Officials hope to recover $700m from lost meeting

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2003, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Jockey Club hopes it will not lose vital betting turnover because of the early cancellation of tonight's Happy Valley race meeting due to the typhoon.

After advice from the Hong Kong Observatory that the weather was set to deteriorate last night and remain unstable today, the stewards of the Jockey Club moved quickly to cancel, foregoing about $700 million in betting turnover. The decision to cancel the meeting was made at 2.30pm yesterday.

'There were a number of factors and although we were still trying to get more information on the typhoon at that stage, the uncertainty which would have surrounded the meeting and the fact that we do have some options swayed the decision,' said the Jockey Club's director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.

'There are two weeks coming up in September and October with vacant dates just for such a scenario and we hope to replace the meeting then. We will ask the government to allow us to race on Wednesday, September 24.'

After the club's positive start to the season on Sunday saw a rise in betting figures, Engelbrecht-Bresges felt the club needed to be proactive out of concern for its customers and so moved to make the decision as early as was reasonable to do so.

'It is not so much about the preparation - the work preparing for the meeting was virtually finished. But the storm looked like being a significant one and so we were conscious of the inconvenience if people were not sure whether there would be a race meeting.

'In fairness to them, I don't believe we had another choice. People would be wondering whether to study the form, owners and punters considering whether to arrange to meet friends at Happy Valley or not.'

The club lost the same Happy Valley meeting last year to a number eight typhoon. Yesterday's decision was made when the typhoon was rated number eight. They are the only meetings lost in such circumstances since September, 1999.

The Club announced that refunds would be made to patrons who had already placed bets, purchased seats in any of the restaurant areas at Happy Valley or bought admission tickets to Happy Valley, Sha Tin Media Halls or Tuen Mun JC Theatre.