Jockey Club's carnival will be a walk in the park for dogs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 5:47am

About 1,000 dogs will take part in the city's first dog walkathon on Saturday in Sha Tin near the site of a lush expanse of unusual grass popular among dogwalkers for being "as soft as a cushion".

The 1.2 kilometre walk is part of the Penfold Paw Paw Hoof Hoof Carnival, organised by the Jockey Club at its Penfold Park track to promote animal welfare and a love for pets.

Half of Penfold Park's eight hectares are covered with grass, and one hectare has two varieties growing together - a hybrid called Bermuda, which thrives in the summer, and a winter variety called perennial ryegrass.

Pako Ip Pak-chung, the club's executive manager for tracks, said: "If you have only the summer grass, it is easily damaged when horses run on it from October to April.

"So winter grass [bought from Oregon in the United States] has been grown during those months every year since 2000. The resilient grassy area … must feel like a cushion to horses and dogs running on it."

Dog owner Polly Li, 57, first noticed other pet owners praising the grassy land at Penfold Park on online forums.

Now, she walks her 17-month-old mongrel, Prince, at the park four or five times a week.

"Dogs need to exercise and socialise, too. [Penfold] provides a very natural environment with a large piece of grassland … and the dogs enjoy the 'cushioned' grass," she said. "On weekends, there are a lot of dogs in the park and it's like a carnival."

Prince will take part in Saturday's walkathon. And although the walk will be on a path rather than the cushioned grass the young dog is used to, Li is confident her pet will be able to complete the journey.

The oldest dog expected at the 1.2 kilometre walkathon is 16 years old, and the youngest only four months old.

The carnival will also feature pony rides for children under the age of six, dog performances, and adoption services for dogs and tortoises. Discussion sessions will focus on responsible dog ownership and training, and animal well-being, among other topics.

Admission to the carnival is free. The event starts at 10am and ends at 6pm.

Penfold Park's track was used to train horses for equestrian events in Beijing's 2008 Olympic Games. It also hosts Hong Kong's annual equestrian championships.