The Hong Kong Jockey Club has announced that Wednesday’s Happy Valley race will be cancelled owing to an imminent safety threat to racegoers, jockeys and employees, and to the welfare of racehorses.

It came after calls for protests at the racecourse, as Hong Kong Bet – a horse owned by pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho – was scheduled to race on Wednesday night.

Ho attracted controversy after he shook hands with a group of people allegedly involved in the mob attacks in Yuen Long on July 21. His district officers have attracted different levels of protest over the past two months, including arson and vandalism.

Happy Valley racecourse
Happy Valley racecourse. File Photo: Jockey Club.

Before the cancellation, Hong Kong Bet’s class 2 race was moved to the first race of the night – a rare arrangement. But, by Wednesday afternoon, the Jockey Club later decided to cancel all races.

The club said it always put safety as a top priority in organising race meetings: “Our concerns are tied to potential social unrest in the vicinity tonight, the very real threat of a disturbance or possible violence at Happy Valley Racecourse, and uncertainty regarding transportation in and around Happy Valley and Causeway Bay for racegoers, jockeys and employees and horses entering or leaving the racecourse throughout the evening,” a Club spokesperson said.

Junius Ho Hong Kong Bet
Junius Ho and Hong Kong Bet. Photo: Junius Ho.

“This is a very difficult and most unfortunate decision to make, but public safety is of paramount importance to the Club. We hope the racing community and the Hong Kong public will understand our reasons for doing so,” the spokesperson added.

The Jockey Club said it will provide further information on wagering refunds and racecourse bookings in due course.

Junius Ho told Now TV he was disappointed by the cancellation decision.

“Should we stop doing what we normally do [because of protests]? It should not be like that… we should not bow to such bullying forces,” he said.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.