You are here

Conghua: New Chinese course is world class but restricted to training

J A McGrath

Imagine a state-of-the-art racecourse nestling in hills on the outskirts of one of China’s most bustling cities. A world class facility that would be the envy of any racing jurisdiction anywhere in the world, yet one limited to training and spelling horses.
This is Conghua, built by the Hong Kong Jockey Club in the relative tranquility of a Chinese village that some believe could develop into a spa town to rival Baden-Baden in Germany.
Conghua, around four hours drive from downtown Hong Kong, exists because of a master plan devised to cater for future generations of racegoers in Southern China.
The plan puts to one side the issue of a Government ban on betting, and places more emphasis on the current ambition of China’s Olympic equine teams.
Yet, horses currently competing under Hong Kong Jockey Club rules at Sha Tin and Happy Valley frequently use the facility for training and resting. It is an equine haven, away from the city confines of Sha Tin, where most horses are based.
The facilities are amazing. There are three tracks — one Turf, measuring 2,000m in circumference, and two all-weather dirt tracks, of 1,780m and 1,600m in circumference.
There is also a straight uphill gallop of 1,100m in length.
It is fair to say that Conghua is a modern-day version of Sha Tin, slightly bigger, more spacious, which is conducive to providing a relaxed atmosphere.
There are nine stable blocks, with capacity for 666 horses, a veterinary hospital, 20 spelling paddocks, an equine swimming pool, as well as facilities for owners and trainers.
An exhibition race meeting is planned for Saturday, 23 March, with horses from Hong Kong being shipped in for the day. Possibly, those present will get a taste of what lies ahead for racegoers of the future.