Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

KL: Karerahan sa Hong Kong

KARERA LANG!  By Jenny Ortuoste for Tumbok,  14 February 2009, Saturday

Karerahan sa Hong Kong

Sobrang ganda ng karerahan sa Hong Kong. Ito ay isang truly world-class operation sa ilalim ng Hong Kong Jockey Club, na isang private company na isa sa pinakamalaking taxpayer sa bansa. Higit 11% ng income tax na nakakalap ng Hong Kong ay mula sa HKJC.

Lahat ng kita ng HKJC ay pumupunta sa charity efforts, at marami pa itong sinusuportahan ng mga endeavors tulad ng Panda Habitat sa Ocean Park resort.

Dalawa ang racetrack ng HKJC – ang Happy Valley, na unang itinayo sa gitna mismo ng siyudad ng Hong Kong, at ang Sha Tin facility sa New Territories.

Ang schedule ng racing sa Hong Kong ay magaan lang – dalawang araw kada linggo, mula Setyembre hanggang Hunyo. Miyerkoles ang karera sa Happy Valley, at Linggo sa Sha Tin.

Ang Happy Valley ay pinapaligiran ng mga office buildings at residential condos, at ito’y napakasayang lugar. Punong-puno ito ng karerista kada Miyerkoles. 

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Skyscrapers surround Happy Valley.

Turf o grass ang pista dito. Maganda ang mga marketing plans. Noong Peb. 4, ang event nila ay “Race in the City”. Parang ginaya ang “Sex in the City” bilang come-on o attraction para sa kababaihan. May mga manghuhula ng tarot cards, libreng manicure, and free-flowing na San Miguel Beer! Kaya talagang dinumog ang karerahan noong araw na iyon.

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San Miguel Beer was free-flowing – for free! – at this tent. A tour guide said that the San Miguel Beer sold in the city was made in Hong Kong from German brewing equipment. “It tastes different,” he said, but his face implied “better” not “different”. Not being a beer drinker, I was unable to disprove his assertion.

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A racegoer has her nails done – for free – while beside her is a glass of ice-cold San Miguel Beer.

Tuwing Linggo naman ang karera sa Sha Tin. Ito’y napakalaking facility at dito na inilipat ang lahat ng mga cuadra. Pati ang mga kabayong tumatakbo sa Happy Valley ay dinadala nalang doon mula Sha Tin sa trailer o “horse box” na may capacity na 9 kabayo.

Dahil sa limitado ang espasyo at lupa sa Hong Kong, ang mga cuadra doon ay mga gusaling tatlong palapag kataas. Ang access dito ay panay rampa. Mistulang parking lot sa mall ang mga ito.

Kumpleto rin ang Sha Tin sa mga facilities tulad ng equine laboratory, hospital, equine pool, at forge.

Ang equine lab, sa pamumuno ni chemist Dr. Terence Wan, ay isa sa apat na kilalang equine lab sa mundo. Ang tatlo pa ay nasa US, France, at Australia. Higit US$8 million ang halaga ng equipment ng HKJC lab, ayon kay Dr. Wan.  

Ang equine hospital sa ilalim ni Dr. Lawrence Chan ay state-of-the-art din. May hydraulic table ang operating theater, at gamma ray machine upang silipin ang loob ng kabayo, bukod pa sa x-ray at ultrasound machines. May mga treadmills din for testing ng cardiovascular health ng kabayo.

Sa forge naman ginagawa at kinukumpuni ng mga trained blacksmiths ang mga bakal na kagamitan sa karera tulad ng sapatos ng kabayo (horseshoes o racing plates), bits, at iba pa.

Ang equine pool naman ay nasa loob ng one-story na gusali. Rubber slip-proof matting ang nakalatag sa sahig upang di masaktan o madulas ang mga kabayo. Mayroon din padded barriers papasok sa pool bilang karagdagang proteksiyon.

Pagkatapos ng workout sa pool, maaring magpa-infrared heat treatment ang kabayo sa katabing solarium.

Turf at dirt ang mga pista sa Sha Tin. Ang kanilang mga hinete ay karamihan foreigners, tulad ni Douglas Whyte, ang pangunahing jockey doon ngayon, at si Cristophe Soumillon ng France. Kada karera sa Sha Tin noong araw ng Peb. 8 ay sponsored stakes race ng Jebsen Company, kaya may awarding pagkatapos ng bawat karera.

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Racegoers get trackside seats at Sha Tin.

 Napakaganda rin ng broadcast. Bukod sa pagka-class ng production, tatlo ang sets ng commentators nila – may English, Cantonese, at Putonghua (Mandarin), kaya lahat ng manonood ay makakaintindi ng race analysis at iba pang komentaryo.

Cantonese

Talagang nakakahanga ang mga facilities ng HKJC, at dapat lang dahil higit sa US$12 billion kada taon ang sales nila. Kahit di natin mapantayan ang ganda ng kanilang karerahan, at least makakakuha tayo ng “best practices” na maaring i-apply sa ating lokal na sitwasyon na ikabubuti ng karerang Pilipino.

Happy Valentine’s Day sa lahat ng mambabasa ng “Karera Lang!” at Tumbok. Enjoy your day kasama ang minamahal sa buhay!   ***

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THW: Hong Kong Racing, Part 1

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 11 February 2009, Wednesday

Hong Kong Racing, Part 1

Horseracing is one of the most exciting spectacles, wherever in the world it may be found. In Hong Kong, the 124-year old Hong Kong Jockey Club has raised racing to new heights with its operations at its two racecourses – at Happy Valley and Sha Tin racecourses.

Happy Valley is the older of the two tracks and is the place to go “for fun”, as a tour guide in Hong Kong said. Sha Tin is “world-class”.

Since land is at a premium in Hong Kong, stables aren’t single-story barns like they are here or in Australia, the USA, or most other racing nations. Rather, stables are three- or four-story buildings accessed via ramps. They look like mall parking lots.

Multi-storey stables at Sha Tin are accessed via ramps.

All the stables are located at Sha Tin, in the New Territories. That same facility includes an elegant clubhouse; equine hospital; equine pool; forge; and chemical laboratory, one of only four top-class equine labs in the world.

Facade of Sha Tin Racecourse, New Territories

Attention to detail: a horseshoe-shaped drain

Training track at Sha Tin

Hong Kong’s top female apprentice brushes her horse’s tail. The bedding, changed twice a day,  is of shredded newspapers.

A curious horse peeks at visitors.

The equine hospital is headed by veterinarian Dr. Lawrence Chan. Since there are no vet schools in Hong Kong, he took his degree in Australia. Dr. Chan pointed out that his hospital has state-of-the art ultrasound equipment; an operating theatre with a large hydraulic table; a gamma ray machine; treadmills to gauge horses’ cardiac health; and an overhead pulley system to transport horses all around the hospital in slings. Surveillance is via a 24-hour CCTV system.

The equine operating theater has a hydraulic table.

Dr. Chan in the recovery room beside the operating theater.

The equine pool is large and very clean. The flooring is of rubberized matting to protect horses’ hooves. After a dip, a trainer may opt for heat treatment for his horse at the adjacent solarium and its bank of infrared lights.

A horse is worked in the equine pool.

After a pool workout, the horse gets an infrared heat treatment in the solarium.

The forge is also high-tech. Several blacksmiths are on duty to create and repair horseshoes, bits, and other metal tack used in riding.

The forge.

The laboratory, headed by chemist Dr. Terence Wan, contains over US$8 million worth of equipment and is upgraded as often as new equipment is invented. The lab, which monitors equine and urine samples in compliance with the HKJC’s strict rules against horse doping, has received many awards for its accomplishments.

Dr. Terence Wan in the HKJC laboratory.

Dr. Wan, who formerly worked in forensics, instituted several streamlining and safeguarding procedures to ensure the credibility of his lab’s findings so that they are admissible in court. Among his innovations are security cameras that record all lab technicians’ movements during investigation of a sample. When the technicians leave their counter, the cameras guard the samples.

The HKJC lab also has huge vaults where the specimens are stored. Access to these vaults, and to those drawers that hold other chemicals, are strictly regulated, with multiple backup and failsafe systems.

The lab processes equine and human (jockeys’) blood and urine samples, and monitors feeds and supplements as well. Their equipment is so sensitive that they can detect the presence of chemicals in the parts per billion. Samples from all over the world are sent to them for testing.

Dr. Wan points out the difference in samples of horses’ urine held by his assistant Jenny. The lighter-colored sample has had its sediments removed and is now ready for analysis. Dr. Wan says is harder to analyze horses’ urine – “We prefer human urine any day!”

Dr. Wan says their lab, staffed with 43 chemists, is so efficient that they have “never had a false positive”.

The racecourses, both at Happy Valley and Sha Tin, are magnificent. Happy Valley has turf, while Sha Tin has both turf and dirt (which they call an “all-weather surface”). Racing is held only twice a week from September to June – Wednesdays at Happy Valley, and Sundays at Sha Tin. The latter has its own MTR (train) station that makes a detour to the racecourse on racedays only.

Happy Valley’s turf track is nestled in the heart of the city.

Sha Tin’s turf and dirt tracks

With racing revenues at over US$12 billion a year, it is no wonder that the HKJC can afford such world-class facilities.  Philippine racing makes P8 billion annually, which could be more if illegal bookie operations were halted. With the limitation in our resources, the most we can do is emulate the best practices we observe in racing abroad, and tailor them to fit our local circumstances.   ***

All photos by Jenny Ortuoste, taken with a Nikon D60, basic lens.

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