The handover ceremony was witnessed by HKSAR Chief Secretary for Administration, Henry Tang; President of the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF & OC), Timothy Fok; Chairman of the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee and Sports Association for the Physically Disabled, Jenny Fung; the Club's Deputy Chairman T Brian Stevenson; the Club's Chief Executive Officer, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges; the Chief Executive Officer of the Equestrian Company, Lam Woon-kwong; and the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Equestrian Company and Venue Manager, Miranda Chiu.
"The Hong Kong Jockey Club made the decision to build the best venues for the Olympic horses and riders to support Beijing's vision of staging the best Olympics and, even though we had less than two years to achieve it, we believe that we've more than lived up to the task", Mr Stevenson commented in his welcome address.
"The Club has invested more than HK$1.2 billion in the Olympic equestrian venues, but we feel it is money well spent because it has been invested in Hong Kong's Olympic history, a history of which the Club is very proud to be part. This is a day for all of Hong Kong to celebrate. A day when the Club hands over the Olympic equestrian venue, ready for the final dress-up to welcome the world's best horses and riders, including our own Hong Kong and Chinese equestrian teams."
HKSAR Chief Secretary for Administration, Henry Tang, spoke at the ceremony as one of the officiating guests. "The venue has been specially designed so that it's very 'horse-friendly'. There are a number of world firsts: everything from the stables environment, training facilities, horse transport, equine sample testing, waste recycling as well as measures to combat the bad weather."
SF & OC President Timothy Fok also congratulated the Club on its work in producing the core Olympic equestrian venue at Sha Tin in less than two years. "Not only was the venue completed within such a short time, but it is also the best equestrian venue ever built", he said. "It has received praise from the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). At a recent meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Beijing, IOC President Jacques Rogge jokingly said that he wouldn't need a room when he comes to Hong Kong for the Games, "a stable will do". This was not only praise for the venues, it also demonstrated his confidence in the capability of Hong Kong people to organize the Games."
To commemorate this afternoon's official handover of the Sha Tin venue from the Club to the Equestrian Company, Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges presented Mr Lam with a giant golden key.
The Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian Venue (Sha Tin) is where most of the Olympic equestrian competitions will be staged between 9 and 21 August. The all-weather surface main arena, which has hi-tech floodlighting appropriate for High Definition TV broadcasting, has grandstand seating for around 18,000 spectators, as well as the Olympic Family, athletes, media and broadcasters. The venue also includes six-star air-conditioned accommodation for the horses, a dedicated Equine Clinic and Farriery, 13 training arenas – including the first Olympic air-conditioned indoor training arena – a cross-country training track and a gallop track, as well as a bridle path for relaxation in the tranquil surrounds of Penfold Park, the in-field of Sha Tin Racecourse.
Four equine cooling stations, including misting tents and plentiful supplies of chilled water, are located around the venue to cool the Olympic horses after training or competition. Mobile cooling units, another unique feature, will also be in use throughout the Olympics and Paralympics.
The Club's Equine Hospital will also be on-call for treatment of the Olympic horses throughout the Games period, while the Club's Racing Laboratory, the only on-site equine testing facility in Olympic history, will test samples from the Olympic horses, with fastest ever turn-round promised.
Major construction work on the Sha Tin venue is now completed. The Equestrian Company will oversee the final phase, including Olympic image and look dress-up of the venue.
The Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian Venue (Beas River), where the cross-country section of the Eventing competition will be held on 11 August, will be handed over to the Equestrian Company next month.
Ms Grania Willis
Public Affairs Consultant (Equestrian Events)
Tel : + 852 2966 5858
Mobile : + 852 67926147