The Hong Kong Jockey Club is to experiment with dirt barrier trials over 1,200 metres at Sha Tin starting today. The new distance, a 50-metre extension to the current arrangement, will be added to the race programme if the trials prove a success. The move is a further attempt to bring Hong Kong in line with other major racing countries, where 1,200 metres is a recognised distance. Sha Tin's dirt track has been unsuitable in the past for races over 1,200 metres because the start would be on the turn, but the course has now been altered to accommodate the new distance. The barriers will be situated on the far side of the track, with the outside horse tight against the far rail, and a chute will direct the horses on to the course proper. John Ridley, racing manager for the Club, said: 'We will only be able to have 12 runners, but we think it's the best way forward. We will let the jockeys have a look to see if they like it before we introduce 1,200-metre races to the programme.' The move mirrors the Club's recent experiment with trials over 1,700 metres at Happy Valley.