Jockey Club funding boost gives Hong Kong riders hope at National Games

Club refuses to disclose exact amount but source claims funding amounts to over HK$10 million

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 August, 2017, 5:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 August, 2017, 7:45pm

Millions of dollars have been injected into the equestrian team to improve their medal prospects as for the first time Hong Kong will take its own horses and a strong support team to the National Games in Tianjin later this month.

Thanks to backing of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the team has already sent their nine horses to China for a period of quarantine before beginning their final build-up to the Games on Monday.

The Club was not willing to disclose exactly how much they spent on the horses as the jumping horses are loaned until the completion of the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia while all the eventing and dressage horses are now in the Club’s name.

But a reliable source said the amount would be no less than HK$10 million, not including the expenses of sending a support team of 11 professionals to the Games including the Club’s veterinarian, a farrier, a sports psychologist and physiotherapists for the riders and horses.

“I don’t think we can do better than before without using our own horses, and in fact it is for the same reason that we are represented in all three equestrian events at the National Games,” said Angela Kong Ka-fung, deputy chef d’equipe. “In previous Games we needed to rent horses from our mainland counterparts who were unfortunately also our competitors. Of course our competitors knew how good or how bad the horses were and as a result, our riders had to be at their very best before they could beat the mainland rivals for medals.”

Kong said the improvement in China’s quarantine system had allowed them to bring the horses out of China after competition, which wasn’t possible few years ago. Hong Kong was only represented in jumping in the last two National Games.

Patrick Lam Lap-shun, who represented Hong Kong at the 2008 Olympic Games, will be taking part in both jumping and eventing in Tianjin. Lam captured the individual jumping gold medal at the 2009 National Games and will be joined by Kenneth Cheng Man-kit, Raena Leung Hou-ling and Clarissa Lyra while riders for eventing also include Annie Ho Yuen-yan, Thomas Ho and Nicole Pearson, the most experienced member of the squad who took part in the 1997 National Games for Hong Kong.

The trio were members of the eventing team that clinched a bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games. Jacqueline Siu Wing-ying remains the only Hong Kong representative in dressage after finishing in fourth place at the Incheon Asian Games.

Lam only started eventing this year, but has achieved some impressive results, including his victory at the Chatsworth International in England in May.

“Before we only had three members in eventing and all their results had to be counted in the team event and Lam’s arrival as the fourth member can give us more leeway,” said Kong.

Equestrianism in China has made marked improvement in recent years with Xinjiang, Tibet, Sichuan and Guangdong the top contenders, according to Kong.