Hong Kong travel impasse resolved, for now

3 min read

By Bren O'Brien

The quarantine impasse which has prevented the travel of horses between Australia and Hong Kong has been temporarily resolved to allow horses to compete in the upcoming Champions Day at Sha Tin as well as December's international meeting.

The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has been assessing the current quarantine regulations which came into place in October 2017 when the Australian Government raised biosecurity concerns over the Hong Kong Jockey Club's new facility at Conghua in mainland China.

Those regulations saw horse travel from Hong Kong to Australia all but cease with Australian-bound horses forced to spend six months in an approved country before being allowed back in from Hong Kong, providing a significant barrier for travelling horses.

Training at Conghua, China

However, the latest assessment has led to a temporary lifting of that regulation.

“The implementation of the interim arrangement will allow Australian racehorses to compete in the Champions Day races at Sha Tin in April 2019,” the Australian Consulate-General to Hong Kong said in a statement.

“[DAWR] appreciates the efforts of both the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Hong Kong Jockey Club in reaching this interim arrangement."

“[DAWR] continues to progress an assessment of the equine disease-free zone in Conghua, China.”

The temporary break is expected to be the first step in a permanent solution to the impasse.

“It is also now possible for Australian runners to participate in Champions Day next month." - Andrew Harding

Connections of several Australian horses, including four-time Group 1 winner Santa Ana Lane (Lope De Vega {Ire}), have expressed an intertest in competing on Champions Day on April 28 should the quarantine issue be resolved.

“These interim protocols provide us with absolute certainty that Australian runners can participate in the 2019 edition of the Longines HKIR and as such are a welcome development,” Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director of Racing Andrew Harding told the South China Morning Post.

Conghua training facility

“It is also now possible for Australian runners to participate in Champions Day next month. I expect many Australian trainers will have already planned their autumn campaigns including whether to vaccinate and horses travelling here in April would be a windfall, but let’s see.”

“We are keen for the DAWR evaluation to be completed as soon as it is possible to allow the full reinstatement of bilateral movements of horses between Hong Kong and Australia, but by guaranteeing that Australian runners can run in our international races we have made an important step forward,” Harding said.

“The club appreciates the efforts of both DAWR and the HKSAR Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department in reaching this interim arrangement and the support given by the Australian racing industry.”