The Jockey Club is prepared to move riders out of their homes – on a case-by-case basis – as officials try to minimise the risk of a Covid-19 positive in the lead-up to the Longines Hong Kong International Races.

It comes as part of the fallout from the Dylan Mo Hin-tung and Jack Wong Ho-nam situation, when the two jockeys were stood down just minutes before Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting after it came to light someone in their building had contracted the virus.

While a lot of the expats live on course in Jockey Club accommodation and within a protected sphere, the rest are based in the community, which is experiencing a significant surge in cases as a fourth wave grips Hong Kong.

Mo and Wong have already been moved to separate hotels and are isolating as they wait for the results of their tests.

Two jockeys stood down after Covid-19 positive found in their building

They are expected to come back negative and the two are likely to be cleared to resume work later this week but they will not be going back to their apartments in the short-term.

At this stage, the Jockey Club is assessing each situation on its merits, making decisions according to individual circumstances. Those in high-risk areas will be asked to move.

Understandably, most jockeys would prefer to remain at home and not uproot their families but these are unprecedented times, as the Mo and Wong case reminded everyone.

“This is crunch time. The good thing is none of our licensed persons have contracted anything [during the pandemic]. What we did [on Sunday] was pure precaution,” Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.

“The ‘racing bubble’ has so far been proven to be relatively robust and it comes back to the individuals to play by the rules. In the racing bubble people play by the rules because there is a big incentive – that’s their living.

“We will go through every aspect to see what we can do to remove as much risk as possible. We have proven that we have systems in place to manage it but the risk situation is a different one and we have to put additional risk mitigation procedures in place.

“We have to look at plan C, plan D. Before, there was no major risk living in any building in Hong Kong, now the risk level is higher. It is not yet out of control but it is a concern. And this will continue for at least three or four weeks.

“We have to go further now. There is too much at stake, not only for us, but also for the community. It’s not just about us.”

‘Jockey jail’ puts noses out of joint as Covid-19 looms large over Hong Kong International Races

While the Jockey Club is prepared to do whatever is needed to ensure everyone’s health while preparing to host its biggest event of the season, officials do not want to take extreme measures unnecessarily.

“We’ve considered it in the past and it’s not necessarily easy, particularly when you’re dealing with a family and asking them to uproot, but we are currently looking at what the options may be and making sure whatever we do is a safer set of arrangements,” Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding said.

“It’s one thing to say we’ll move, but move to where? We want to make sure what we’re doing is helping.”

As Covid-19 cases spread throughout the city again, the Jockey Club is also shutting all off-course betting branches indefinitely from December 2.