The exterior of the Owners' Lounge at the Conghua Training Centre.
©Hong Kong Jockey Club
The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Conghua Training Centre (CTC) is scheduled to open in August, 2018. When it does, Owners with horses stabled there will experience all the excitement of a new venture, but with familiar comforts.
Hong Kong’s Owners are part of racing’s bedrock. The Club has worked throughout the duration of the CTC development to meet those Owners’ needs. As the new complex rolls into day-to-day functionality, the Club’s Owners Relationship Team will play a key role in ensuring Owners with horses trained at Conghua have a first-class experience. The team will make all necessary arrangements for Owners wishing to visit their horses at CTC, organising cross-border travel and accommodation, liaising with stables, and providing service at the country club-styled Owners’ Lounge.
The number of racehorses stabled and trained at CTC is expected to be approximately 200 during its first season of operation. Owners will be permitted to visit their horses seven days a week, from 6am to 10 am and 2pm to 5pm.
“As it’s a bio-security zone, Owners are requested to register a visit in advance,” Mr. K L Cheng, HKJC’s Head of Dual Site Stables Operations and Owners Services, said. “Owners must contact the Owners Relationship Team to make a booking, and the team, in turn, will make all the preparations necessary to ensure that the Owner has an enjoyable visit.”
Security is tight at CTC and its bio-secure status means Owners will have to declare that they have had no contact with other horses on the Chinese Mainland within the preceding 24 hours. They can expect to go through simple yet essential protocols upon arrival, too.
The site’s comfortable Lounge will be the first stop for Owners upon entering the site. The light, airy ground floor facility has been designed to ensure Owner comfort, with relaxing seating, as well as shower rooms. It also has car parking right outside. Staff will be on hand to prepare and serve light snacks, tea, coffee and soft drinks. They will also arrange staff members from the stables to take Owners to and from the stable yard areas by golf cart, or accompany them to the trainers’ stand to watch track work.
Turf barrier trials will be staged about once a month. When those occur, the Owners Relationship Team will organise transport from Hong Kong to CTC for Owners with horses involved in trials. During the initial stages, the Club will also pay for those Owners to stay the night preceding the trials at CTC’s close neighbour, the Dusit Devarana Hot Springs and Spa Hotel, with dinner included. A shuttle bus will take the Owners on the short ride from the hotel to CTC to watch the trials the following morning.
“Our Owners Relationship Team provides owners with a one-stop service,” Cheng said. “We will encourage Owners to take up our overnight offer at the Dusit hotel, as it makes the whole experience much more enjoyable after travelling. But we will also facilitate their stay at other hotels in the area, or even in Guangzhou, which is about an hour away, if that’s what they want, but that would be at the Owner’s own cost. The Team will also arrange any leisure activities the Owners would like to participate in during their visit.”
Those extra leisure pursuits could include golf at the nearby Imperial Springs Resort. The luxury site has three nine-hole golf courses and an impressive Club House. And if an Owner would like to explore the area’s dining options, or engage in some sightseeing, the Owners Relationship Team is positioned to arrange it on their behalf.
“Many owners are concerned about livery charges,” Mr Cheng added. “The cost of livery will be the same as in Hong Kong, regardless of where the horse is stabled. Other than the usual inflationary increases, costs are not expected to change when Conghua opens, as travelling costs are borne by the Club. To keep things simple, there will be one monthly single livery bill in Hong Kong dollars, no matter a horse’s location.”
There are even plans to acquire a custom-built luxury coach for the Owners’ journey from Hong Kong to CTC, a 50-seat model modified to feature only 24 luxury leather seats.
It all points to the CTC experience being comfortable and enjoyable for Hong Kong’s Owners.