Tiny ponies have joined the Operation Santa Claus appeal, raising a smile as well as cash for the Ing Mei Orphanage Fund. The miniature horses from Russia have been visiting shopping centres to greet the public. For the first year, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is joining the appeal run by the South China Morning Post and RTHK with the ponies the main focus of its fund-raising drive. On Saturday, they were at Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui where crowds queued to take photographs of them after making a minimum donation of $20 to the campaign. Jockey Club chief executive Lawrence Wong Chi-kwong pledged to raise at least $100,000 for Operation Santa with the roadshow travelling to shopping centres and perhaps from other events, such as auctioning jockeys' and racing memorabilia. 'It's only natural when we see a very worthwhile programme such as Operation Santa Claus that we want to get involved, and this year with the Ing Mei Orphanage Fund, it's a very good cause,' he said. Mr Wong also said the Jockey Club, as well as being the largest taxpayer, did a lot of fund-raising outside racing and staff were involved in many projects on a personal level, such as helping children practise conversational English. That showed how the club kept a watch on the whole of society, not just through major developments it made possible such as the University of Science and Technology, the Hong Kong Stadium and parks. 'The fact that we do the big projects doesn't preclude us from doing the small projects as well,' Mr Wong said. 'We are also excited about smaller areas which need help where the cause is worthy and we can contribute.' CHEQUES BOOST APPEAL FUND Cheques flooded in yesterday, bringing $36,710 to the appeal. Special thanks to: David Brettell, Shirley Tsang, William Knox and his colleagues, Sau Mau Ping Police District Officers' Mess, Mr and Mrs Arthur May, Lourdes Espinoza and Gloria Tung and her family for their contributions. The total, including $100,000 from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, has now reached $1,416,618, confirmed by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Check out the latest bids and make your offers for the 12 exclusive Furbies and the DolphinWatch trips on The Web Connection's on-line auction at www.hongkong .com/op-santa Drop your donations into collecting boxes at these Urban Property Management centres: Sha Tin's City One Plaza, Grand Millennium Plaza in Sheung Wan, the Parklane Shopper's Boulevard in Tsim Sha Tsui, Tsuen Wan's Riviera Plaza and the arcades in Mei Foo Sun Chuen. Otherwise crossed cheques payable to Operation Santa should be posted to RTHK Radio 3, PO Box 70200, Kowloon. For further information call Nathalie Rahman or Zoe Lack on 2339 6418.