The Hong Kong Jockey Club's handover of its HK$1.2 billion venues to the Equestrian Company yesterday marked another step in the countdown towards August's Olympic events. There were both celebratory and cautious tones, as Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen reminded everyone that only 74 days remained until the opening ceremonies. Jockey Club deputy chairman Brian Stevenson echoed the message, saying that in two months 'this is where the gold medals will be won and lost'. The Jockey Club spent the past 21/2 years building the 278,000 square metre venue at Sha Tin, which includes a competition arena that seats 18,000. As the Equestrian Company, the organisers of the equestrian events, assumed responsibility of the venue, deputy chief executive Miranda Chiu said it was an 'exciting moment', but just having the physical structure was not enough. 'Now we have to make sure everything is working,' Chiu said. 'It's nice to have the venue and now we can start work on the software, [the operation] part of things.' But in addition to preparing a venue and organising competition for 200 horse and rider combinations, both the Jockey Club and the Equestrian Company have had to field questions about Hong Kong's climate. Light rain accompanied the handover ceremony and once again Equestrian Company chief executive Lam Woon-kwong was asked about contingency plans. Lam said measures were in place - including schedule adjustments in the most extreme cases - and also asked spectators to carry ponchos and umbrellas. Tang called the process of building the venues a 'battle against time and elements', but added the Jockey Club managed to get the job done in eight months - in time for last August's test event. Lam said work had not stalled. While the majority of the work on the venues has been finished, the cross-country course designer, for example, will arrive next month to finish the course. 'We will continue to touch up the [Sha Tin] and the Beas River venues, we will continue to make them look more 'Olympic' and we will of course continue to drill together, to rehearse together,' Lam said.