A riding club deemed to have breached planning laws by exercising horses in the New Territories yesterday succeeded in its attempt to escape a $200,000 fine. The club had been wrongly convicted because trotting in the paddock did not amount to using the land for 'horse-riding facilities', ruled Mr Justice Brian Keith. He said the magistrate had described the exercise sessions as horse-riding 'activities' which was different and not enough to support a conviction. The Tai Tong Lychee Valley Riding Club, near Yuen Long, claimed it would have been cruel to deny the 24 horses exercise while it awaited planning permission. It had more than 100 members, but had to close in May 1995 after being refused planning permission. Stables and a paddock remained on site along with the horses. The club was finally granted planning permission in January and expects to be back in operation soon. Timothy Cheung, for the club, said its primary concern had been the horses' health. The prosecution claimed staff were riding the animals 'for fun' and the stables and paddock amounted to riding facilities. But the conviction was overturned and the fine set aside.