The second-lowest Sha Tin attendance on record last night watched racing at the rain-lashed New Territories venue. Just 20,041 turned up - the lowest weekend figure in the 18-year history of the course. The lowest was 18,392, recorded on a wet Wednesday in April last year. The average attendance per meeting is nearly 50,000. The torrential rain which inundated much of the territory accounted for the disappointing crowd. The space in the public and members' stands was a racing rarity. But the Hong Kong Jockey Club chief executive, Lawrence Wong, was delighted racing even took place. He paid tribute to the sandmesh surface, which absorbed 61 millimetres of rain in the 24 hours before racing started, then another 41 mm. A Jockey Club information officer said: 'It is a disappointing crowd but what can you expect on a night like this? It was a nightmare trying to get to the course.' Director of betting Henry Chan paid tribute to his totalisator staff. 'We knew the traffic conditions and I expected to have a lot of people unable to get here or late. 'When I checked 45 minutes before the start of the first race they were all on duty. They deserve credit for that.' Journeys from Hong Kong Island to the New Territories track took up to two hours. The controversial Sha Tin sandmesh surface turned out to be the night's big winner. Even though the rain was almost incessant, jockeys reported that it rode safely. And despite the conditions, the official track reading was not downgraded to soft until just before the eighth and final event.