A gallop forward

Equine industry development in the Greater Bay Area marks a major milestone as The Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Guangzhou Municipal Government sign a Framework Cooperation Agreement

On 14 May, The Hong Kong Jockey Club announced the signing of a Framework Cooperation Agreement with the Guangzhou Municipal Government, which will jointly take forward the promotion and development of the equine industry in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). The agreement provides a solid foundation for mutual cooperation and collaboration for the realization of the National Equine Industry Development Plan 2020-2025 promulgated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and General Administration of Sport last year.

The Club’s Chairman Philip Chen joined the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam, the Governor of Guangdong Ma Xingrui, Executive Vice Governor of Guangdong Lin Keqing, Vice Governor of Guangdong Zhang Xin, Secretary General of Guangdong Ye Niuping, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung, Financial Secretary Paul Chan, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of Guangdong Li Huanchun and other guests to witness the signing of the agreement by the Executive Vice Mayor of Guangzhou Chen Zhiying and the Club’s Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.

This agreement sets out the main objectives, scope and details of the collaboration between the Guangzhou Municipal Government and the Club. The cooperation aims to establish a commercially viable and sustainable system of international-standard racing in Guangzhou, drawing on the Club’s international standing and world-class facilities at Conghua Racecourse (CRC). This, in turn, will strengthen CRC’s position as the anchor of the Guangzhou-Hong Kong

Racing Economic Cluster and provide a strategic platform for the Mainland to showcase international racing. It will also boost the development of a fully-fledged equine value chain in the region.

“The Framework Cooperation Agreement is an important initiative which will take forward the policy direction to promote equine industry as presented in the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Thanks to the unfailing support of Mainland and Hong Kong authorities, the Club is honoured to be trusted with the opportunity to contribute at both the Greater Bay Area and national levels by leveraging its international connections and expertise. We look forward to a strong partnership with the authorities in developing Conghua Racecourse as the anchor of equine industry development in the area,” said Philip Chen.

“Building on our respective strengths, this agreement will substantially deepen the Club’s strategic cooperative partnership with the Guangzhou Municipal Government, with the aim of achieving our shared vision for the Guangzhou-Hong Kong Racing Economic Cluster. Since it opened in 2018, CRC has become an integral part of Hong Kong’s world-class racing. We will fully leverage CRC’s world-class facilities and talent within the Club to implement this exciting but challenging initiative,” said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.

The Guangzhou Municipal Government and the Club both agree that, on the basis of complementarity and mutual benefit, such collaboration will fully capitalise on Guangzhou’s cluster of high-end capabilities and the room for development provided by the Mainland’s first permanent equine disease-free zone, as well as benefiting from the Club’s international standing and experience in racing. Both parties look forward to establishing the Guangzhou-Hong Kong Racing Economic Cluster as an exemplary, high-quality industry development in the GBA.

The agreement outlines three main areas of cooperation to achieve its strategic objectives:

1. Organisation of international-standard races: The cooperation aims to introduce international-standard races at CRC, conducted under the Club’s racing rules and regulations based on international best practice. Under the agreement, a regular racing programme will commence at CRC in 2025.

2. Upgrading of Conghua Racecourse: To unleash the full potential of CRC as a centre for world-class racing events, the Club will upgrade its infrastructure. This will include the construction of a new and iconic grandstand, as well as additional stables, training facilities and expanded staff accommodation. The Guangzhou Municipal Government will build an additional road to CRC to enhance its accessibility. The upgrade will also enable CRC to further support the training centre at Sha Tin as part of the Club’s dual-site model. Furthermore, it will provide more opportunities to develop world-class equine professionals in the Mainland, in support of the continuing growth of equine sports in the GBA.

3. Development of an equine value chain: The Club will develop an international equine quarantine facility to enable the transportation, import and export of horses both internationally and locally. In addition, the Club will offer comprehensive training programmes through its racing academy in support of the long-term development of racing talent. Other equine-related initiatives – including veterinary professional development and academic collaboration; further enhancement of the cross-boundary movement and inspection of horses, forage grass and fodder, veterinary medicines and biological products; exploration of the development of a thoroughbred trading centre; promotion of equestrian sports in Guangzhou; and more – will also be pursued to allow for a thriving equine industry to take hold in the GBA in the future.

The ceremony also saw the signing of an agreement between the Guangdong and HKSAR governments to officially promulgate the establishment of the Guangdong-Hong Kong Equine Industry Collaboration Task Force under the Hong Kong-Guangdong Cooperation Joint Conference, which aims to enhance Hong Kong-Guangdong collaboration and facilitate the formulation of policy measures to promote equine industry development in the GBA. The Club also signed a Supplementary Memorandum of Understanding with the Guangdong Sports Bureau to deepen cooperation and foster the development of equine sports and other related areas in Guangdong, including talent development for equine sports and the equine industry, as well as sports exchange activities for youth in the GBA.

The Club is grateful for the full support from Mainland and HKSAR authorities for these agreements. Building on this solid cooperation, the Club looks forward to taking the equine industry in the GBA to a world-class level.