Charities benefit as $3b trust launched

CHARITIES supported by the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club are set to benefit from the establishment of a $3 billion trust, writes Lawrence Wadey.

The introduction of the Charitable Trust, announced yesterday, follows the influenza virus which ravaged the Sha Tin stabling complex and forced a halt to racing for a month last November and December.

The break in racing led to the Board of Stewards reviewing the Jockey Club's existing contingency fund which had existed for two reasons.

Firstly, it was there to finance the re-establishment of racing in the face of some disaster like a fire killing all the horses.

Secondly, the contingency fund would also cover charitable donations for a year should racing be forced to close down for a season.

The Charitable Trust formally separates these two purposes of the contingency fund and will lead to an increase in money for charitable dispersion.

Major-General Guy Watkins, the Jockey Club's chief executive, last night called its introduction ''a wonderful idea''.

''The fund will be earning interest for the charities and it will also enjoy certain tax advantages which were not available to the contingency fund.

''It is a recognition of the Club's commitment to charity within the contingency fund and its commitment to all the elements in the community who depend on the community for ongoing support.

''We are not just talking about the big projects but those which go much more unrecognised such as the help we give to the blind or the poor or the homeless which may not make the headlines.'' The $3 billion comprises $2 billion from contingency reserves and $1 billion from accumulated funds.

The Club has also pledged continued assistance to existing and prospective racing authorities in China.

Sir William Purves' statement reveals that in addition to racing in Guangzhou, trial meetings have been held at racecourses in Inner Mongolia and Shun Yi County near Beijing airport.